Montecito Association Meets

By Kelly Herrick   |   June 17, 2021

It was a meaty agenda at this month’s Montecito Association Board of Directors meeting, which featured updates on the Highway 101 expansion through Montecito, the beginning of Smart Meter technology at Montecito Water District, and updates on proposed state housing bills that could have a significant effect on Montecito. 

Kirsten Ayars with the 101 widening project reported on updates related to the freeway construction. Most notably, she reported that work is underway near the north end of Padaro Lane to build an on-site concrete mixing site. The large equipment will be located between the southbound on-ramp and the railroad tracks, and portions of the equipment will be 60 feet in height.

“We want residents to be aware of this, as it will be very visible from the freeway,” Ayars said prior to the meeting.

She reports that the benefits outweigh the aesthetics, as there are several environmental benefits to building an on-site concrete mixing facility. Currently, concrete is being mixed in Santa Barbara and trucked to the construction areas in Carpinteria and Summerland. The new mix site, which is permitted through 2024, will create a savings of 463,711 vehicle miles and 400,000 gallons of water, as well as $13M in tax dollars. The facility could be permitted for subsequent construction segments in the future; once it’s removed, the area will be re-landscaped.

“Anything we can do to make it better, we — Caltrans and SBCAG — are committed to doing, but you can see there are a lot of good reasons for mixing the concrete on site,” Ayars said to the MA board, adding that the on-site mix facility allows for the use of reinforced concrete pavement, which is the quietest roadway surface that has been developed to date. The surface has a long lifespan and reduces tire noise because cars are not going over degraded areas. 

Ayars went through the widening project, which currently has three segments — and seven miles — in construction through Carpinteria, Padaro Lane, and Summerland. The project will add peak period carpool lanes and improve freeway operations and safety. In Carpinteria, in addition to the new carpool lanes, there are new bridges being built as well as freeway on- and off-ramps, six new sound walls, and intersection improvements at Santa Monica and Via Real, Reynolds and Carpinteria avenues, and Bailard and Hwy 101. 

At the Padaro segment, the project will add new peak period carpool lanes, new bridges at Toro and Arroyo Parida creeks, a new south Padaro Lane/Santa Claus Lane undercrossing, new bridge and on- off- ramps, three new sound walls, and a new separated bikeway that will connect Santa Claus Lane and Carpinteria Avenue near the salt marsh. The Padaro section of the project will be designated a Blue Star Memorial Highway.

The Summerland portion of the project includes new peak period carpool lanes, new bridges at Sheffield Drive and Evans, on- and off-ramps replaced at Evans, Ortega Hill, and Wallace Ave, two new sound walls, and undercrossing improvements at Evans including new lighting, sidewalks, bike lanes, design elements, and landscaping. 

For more information about the current and future highway widening projects, visit www.sbroads.com

The MA Board received a presentation on Montecito Water District’s Smart Meter program by Adam Kanold, the assistant general manager of MWD. The District is currently in the permitting process for the second phase of the Smart Meter Program, which includes hearings at Montecito Board of Architectural Review and Montecito Planning Commission this summer.

Currently, MWD meters are read by meter readers on scooters, once a month. Last year, MWD replaced the majority of water meters throughout the district with smart meters, which will eventually electronically and wirelessly transmit water usage data. Benefits include the detection of abnormal use in minutes, leak alerts for customers and MWD, and the ability to identify system level issues immediately in case of emergency. The program reduces financial burden on customers, increases conservation, provides tools for customers to conserve, and reduces traffic and carbon footprint.

During Phase 2 of the program, MWD is seeking to install communication devices on 23 sites throughout the district, the majority of which will be installed on existing utility poles. Five new 30- to 35-foot poles to accommodate the shoebox-sized devices are slated to be located on MWD properties. This work is estimated to be completed by October of this year.

According to Kanold, the equipment is FCC certified, and operates at intermittent low powered levels, similar to two-way radios and walkie talkies.

“Radio frequency exposure is 1,000 times less than the FCC limit,” he said. Customers not wanting to utilize the Smart Meter program will be given an option to opt out. Stay tuned for your water bills to provide more information, or visit www.montecitowater.com. 

MA Executive Director Sharon Byrne reported that two controversial housing bills have been passed at the Senate level, and are moving on to the State Assembly. SB-9 and SB-10 would allow lot splits and the building of multi-family housing units in single family residential zones via ministerial approvals, without local control or design review. The MA has hired former state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson as a legislative analyst and advocate to help defeat the two housing bills, which are in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to add millions of housing units in California.

In addition to drastically reducing the red tape to build multiple units on a property, SB-9 encourages developers to buy properties, demolish them, and build 6-8 new housing units; the bill does not require that improvements be made to local infrastructure to accommodate more residents, including water and sewer infrastructure, law enforcement and school capacity, road infrastructure, and more.

“The goal here is to undermine local control,” Jackson said. 

Another housing bill, SB-12, which the MA supports as it’s related to protecting zones in high fire areas, also passed to the Assembly. 

To get involved, visit www.montecitoassociation.org

During Community Reports, Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi reported residential burglaries on Ortega Ridge, Glen Oaks, Glenview, and Tiburon Bay Lane, as well as a burglary from a vehicle on Monte Cristo Lane and the burglary of a construction office on East Valley Road. He also mentioned the found remains of a Native American in Riven Rock; the case has been turned over to the Native American Council for investigation. 

Cold Spring School Superintendent Dr. Amy Alzina reported that the School Board has voted to use $1 million in reserve funds to build a new building to house two new classrooms, as the school has maxed out its enrollment capacity at 194 students for next year. The new building will be adjacent to two dilapidated portable classrooms on the campus, which the Board sought to replace with a new administration building via a school bond last November. Measure L2020 asked District voters to approve a $7.8M bond over a 30-year period, but it failed and was fraught with controversy.

“Eventually we’ll need a bond to support the needs of our school,” Alzina said. 

Anthony Ranii from MUS reported that a statewide initiative from Gov. Newsom is proposing universal transitional kindergarten (aka TK) at all schools in the state, but basic aid schools like MUS and Cold Spring would not receive any funding to offer the extra year of schooling.

“We would need to pay for teachers and staff to accommodate this. It’s a very big deal for us, and it’s a last-minute surprise for our school district,” he said, adding that he is working on lobbying the local legislatures to receive funding for this change. 

“We don’t want to have to cut other programs,” he explained. 

For more information, visit www.montecitoassociation.org, with the next board meeting on July 13.

 

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