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CEC is committed to creating a more resilient and just region in the face of climate change. Through our work with the Central Coast Climate Justice Network and elsewhere, our vision includes an end to racial injustices and their resulting environmental inequities.
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Update March 23: Success!

[vc_column_text]Santa Barbara’s Mayor and City Council members voted unanimously to uphold the appeal and support the Westside Community Paseos project. There were some conditions to their approval, mostly to ensure that the Historic Landmarks Commission members can support landscape design for the project and to improve the way that City staff bring these projects to their design review boards (including the Historic Landmarks Commission).

Approving the Westside Community Paseos project is a critical step for climate action, safer biking and walking, and clean transportation equity in Santa Barbara. We thank City Council for approving the project with a unanimous vote. We also appreciate the Mayor and City Council’s focus on improving collaboration between the City’s staff and Design Review Boards for future projects. Improved processes will help ensure that other critical clean transportation improvements and climate action projects have a streamlined path to approval, which will support a faster transition to zero-carbon communities that are connected with safe and accessible options for walking and biking.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator css=”.vc_custom_1616556178893{margin-top: 5% !important;}”]

The original action alert:

[vc_column_text]On Tuesday, March 23, the Santa Barbara City Council will consider the Westside Community Paseos project – which the City Council previously approved as part of the original Bicycle Master Plan but is now at risk (see history below). Now is the critical time to push for its implementation.

Supporting this project would:

1) Close a glaring gap in the City’s bicycle network between the Westside, downtown, and the Eastside – that daily causes community members to bike and walk in unsafe conditions.

2) Advance more equitable access and connections to safe walking and biking in Santa Barbara’s two largest predominantly Spanish-speaking low-income communities of color.

3) Create a new bicycle boulevard along Sola Street that calms traffic in two locations to provide a safer, more accessible, and uninterrupted travel corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians.

4) Provide a much safer walking and biking corridor for Westside students traveling to and from Santa Barbara High School.

5) Help end all severe or fatal transportation-related injuries by 2030, a goal of the City’s Vision Zero Strategy.

6) Support Santa Barbara’s Carbon Neutrality by 2035 goals by making biking and walking a safe option for more residents.

Join CEC, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST) and the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE) in sending a clear message to City Council members that our communities want and need the Westside Community Paseos project.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_btn title=”Sign the petition now.” color=”primary” align=”center” link=”url:%23AA_Westside_Form_Eng”][vc_column_text]

A Little History

During the 2016 Santa Barbara Bike Master Plan update, new green bike lanes were proposed along Micheltorena Street to close a glaring gap in the City’s bicycle network between the Westside and Eastside. The new bike lanes along Micheltorena Street would require the removal of on-street parking spaces, which triggered strong opposition to the project from some residents. In response to this public input, Santa Barbara’s Mayor and Councilmembers asked the City’s Transportation staff to find an alternative to the Micheltorena Street bike lane project. A bicycle boulevard along Sola Street was proposed as the best alternative option for people to safely ride between the City’s Westside, downtown, and Eastside. The Sola Street bicycle boulevard was approved with a 6-1 vote by City Council when they adopted the 2016 Bicycle Master Plan at a meeting with record public attendance.

In 2017, the City of Santa Barbara’s Department of Public Works won a $4.48 million Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant from the California Transportation Commission (CTC). The funding was awarded to build the Westside Community Paseos project, including the Sola Street bicycle boulevard plus several other new bike lanes and neighborhood walking improvements. The project’s new bike lanes and pedestrian improvements would provide the most direct benefits to residents in the City’s Westside and Eastside neighborhoods – the two largest low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in Santa Barbara. The project will also calm traffic and create a new bike lane connection between the Westside and Santa Barbara High School, giving students much safer options for walking or biking. These significant benefits are the main reasons the City received ATP funding to build this critical project.

What happened?

In early February 2021, The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) denied approval of the Westside Paseos project plans even though City staff had already received the ATP funding to build the project. The HLC refused to approve the project because it included landscaping, signage, and other design elements that they argued would “obstruct mountain views” and were not compatible with the El Pueblo Viejo historic district that Sola Street runs through. Before they voted to deny the project, several HLC members also made comments highlighting their personal concerns about negative traffic impacts and transportation grid “disruptions”. These comments focused only on automobiles and neglected the major benefits that the project would provide for City’s residents who walk and bike.

What does the HLC decision mean?

The HLC decision should raise major concerns about systemic inequity and racism for the City. How could the HLC deny a project that provides critical biking and walking improvements for the City’s two largest, predominantly Spanish-speaking and low-income, communities of color? 

By moving to deny the project, the HLC has: 

  • Denied Eastside and Westside residents increased access to safe walking and biking – at a time when pedestrian and bicycle fatalities are at 30-year record highs. The impact of this trend is being felt across local communities, with a pedestrian fatality in Lompoc and two bicyclist fatalities in Oxnard in February 2021 alone. Until the Westside Paseos project is built, the people in these neighborhoods will continue to be disproportionately exposed to the dangers of automobile traffic, and there will be tragic consequences.
  • Put the City’s $4.48 million ATP grant award at risk, with potential long-term consequences for the City’s ability to secure funding for future transportation safety improvements. ATP grants are highly competitive and if City staff are forced to return the ATP grant funding they received, ATP funding applications they submit in the future will receive lower scores. This means less funding for transportation improvements, which will further impede the City’s ability to implement their Vision Zero Strategy for safe walking and biking.
  • Delayed progress towards the City’s 2035 carbon neutrality goal. Denying projects that provide safer walking and biking only increases our communities’ reliance on driving. Transportation already accounts for half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state of California, and is the largest local source of emissions. These emissions are causing increased climate change impacts that already have a disproportionate impact on our low-income communities and communities of color.

Santa Barbara needs to do everything it can to make a rapid and equitable transition to zero-emission transportation, including walking and biking. The Westside Community Paseos project is setting the stage for this transition. 

Take action with us!

The HLC’s decision to deny the Westside Paseos project is being appealed by the Public Works Transportation team to Santa Barbara’s City Council, who will make a final decision to deny or approve the project on Wednesday, March 23, at 2:00 PM. Before the meeting happens, we need to send a clear message to City Council members that our communities want and need the Westside Community Paseos project. The City Council previously approved it as part of the 2016 Bicycle Master Plan so now is the time to push for its implementation. 

Once constructed, the Westside Community Paseos project will provide immediate benefits to the youth, families, and workers in our Westside and Eastside communities who already bike and walk – often out of necessity. It will also give more Westside and Eastside residents the option to safely and confidently walk or bike instead of driving. The project is a critical step toward more equitable access to safe walking and biking for our low-income communities, and will support local climate action as well as community health. 

Sign the letter below to tell Santa Barbara’s Mayor and City Council members that you support the Westside Community Paseos project.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”5px” el_id=”AA_Westside_Form_Eng”][vc_cta h2=””]March 23, 2021

Mayor and City Council members
City of Santa Barbara
735 Anacapa St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Re: Appeal to Approve Westside Community Paseos Project

Dear Mayor Murillo and City Council members,

We, the undersigned, urge you to support the Westside Community Paseos project, which was appealed to City Council after the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) denied the project in February 2021.

With your project appeal decision, you have the power to uphold the appeal and approve construction of the Westside Community Paseos project, which would:

  • Close a glaring gap in the City’s bicycle network between Westside neighborhoods, downtown, and Eastside neighborhoods.
  • Create a new bicycle boulevard along Sola Street that calms traffic in two locations to provide a safer, more accessible, and uninterrupted travel corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Provide a much safer walking and biking corridor for Westside students traveling to and from Santa Barbara High School.
  • Advance more equitable access and connections to safe walking and biking in Santa Barbara’s two largest predominantly Spanish-speaking low-income communities of color.

Construction of the Westside Paseos Project would directly benefit the City’s Westside and Eastside neighborhoods – the two largest low-income neighborhoods in Santa Barbara. It will also support the City’s Vision Zero Strategy goal to end all severe or fatal transportation-related injuries by 2030 and their goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2035.

The HLC decision to deny the Westside Community Paseos Project should raise major concerns about systemic inequity and racism for the City. A denial of the Westside Community Paseos project will deny equitable access to safer walking and biking for our communities. Until the Westside Community Paseos Project is built, residents in our Eastside and Westside neighborhoods will continue to be disproportionately exposed to the dangers of automobile traffic.

City staff have already secured Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant funding from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to build the Westside Community Paseos project. If Council does not approve the Westside Community Paseos project, the City could be forced to forgo $4.437 million of this highly competitive grant funding – and pay back the state roughly $180,000 that has been spent thus far. The City also risks losing this funding if the Sola Street bike boulevard component is redesigned without the proposed traffic diverters or is removed entirely from the Westside Community Paseos project.

The loss of ATP funding for the Westside Community Paseos project would have long-term implications for the City. When City staff submit ATP grant applications, their submissions are scored in several different areas – including the applicant’s past success with implementing projects. ATP grants are highly competitive, so even a slight decrease in an applicant’s score can make the difference between receiving or not receiving an award. If Council allows denial of the Westside Community Paseos project or alters the project in ways that require the City to return ATP funding, the City will comprise its ability to secure additional ATP funding for critical bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements in the future.

There would be many other long-term ripple effects from a standing denial of the Westside Community Paseos project. If Council decides to stand behind HLC’s decision to deny the project, the decision would impede the City’s Vision Zero Strategy to end severe or fatal transportation-related injuries in Santa Barbara by 2030. It would also delay progress toward the City’s Carbon Neutrality by 2035 target and related zero-emission transportation goals that aim to reduce reliance on automobiles with safer walking and biking.

As residents of the City, we stand with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE), the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST), and Community Environmental Council (CEC) as strong supporters of the Westside Community Paseos project. We urge you to uphold the appeal and approve the Westside Paseos Project with all of the proposed design elements, as already approved as part of the Bicycle Master Plan.

Sincerely,[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Want to take more action?

Speak at the virtual City of Santa Barbara Council meeting
Date: Tuesday, March 23
Location: Join Meeting Electronically 
Webinar ID: 700-928-339 (use Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browsers)
Time: The Council meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. The Westside Community Paseos project is item 10 on the agenda, so it may come up later in the afternoon. View Agenda. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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