Pursuing Sound Walls

By Sharon Byrne   |   March 15, 2022

On February 3, we learned in a public meeting the Montecito segment of the 101 project would no longer have sound walls. The reason was hydraulic modeling that showed significant flood water rise in a major weather event. This was a major shock to the community. We’ve been looking at the project in our Land Use and Transportation committee meetings for three years. We’d seen sound wall design. How could they suddenly be out? Was there no other way? Staggered sound walls? Grates at the bottom? The answer given by Caltrans is every scenario of sound wall construction led to the same outcome: significant water rise.

Santa Barbara County Flood Control has not seen the hydraulic modeling Caltrans performed. Supervisor Williams said he would formally request Caltrans’ data so the Flood Control team can review it, and we eagerly supported it. Two weeks later, we called Senator Limón to ask her to get Caltrans to turn their hydraulic models for sound walls over to the county.

While the current plan includes hurricane fencing with landscaping, the adjacent neighbors will be very affected by increased freeway noise. We’ve been assured Caltrans will pave with “quiet concrete” meant to achieve sound reduction. It seems strange that communities with creeks and significant flooding over the years got sound walls, but somehow Montecito won’t? This isn’t over yet… stay tuned. 

Housing Legislation Update

The ballot initiative to overturn Senate Bills 9 and 10, Our Neighborhood Voices, has been withdrawn and will be targeted for the 2024 ballot instead. Organizers gathered 150,000 of the needed 1 million signatures but did not have the funding required to hire signature-gatherers to get enough signatures in time for April 30, the deadline to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. 

In the meantime, that means we have no ordinance protecting Montecito and the county from Senate Bills 9 and 10. County Planning and Development is asking the Supervisors whether to prioritize this for their workplan this year.  

We hope you’ll let our Supervisor Das Williams know how you feel by emailing him at DWilliams@countyofsb.org

Sharon Byrne is the Executive Director of the Montecito Association


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