As part of its mid-year budget review, Santa Barbara city staff announced some $67 million worth of capital improvements to be completed this year, with another $157 million currently in the design process, to be funded over several years. The most conspicuous projects underway are the five-level Granada Garage — expected to open the first week of March — and the already operative covered Sheffield Reservoirs, intended to improve water quality; the neighborhood-appeasing landscaping around them will be completed by spring. Less evident improvements include the rubber sidewalks, permeable concrete, and other alternate construction materials that have been installed at the base of 19 big-rooted ficus trees on upper State and Modoc, preserving both trees and sidewalk. The new, finer-bubble diffusers at the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant, which aerate and transform incoming waste before it’s shipped to Kern County’s agricultural field, are being re-evaluated for even greater efficiency. And the diversion and cleansing of urban runoff at two storm drains — one on Haley Street and one near the intersection of Hope and State — promise healthier creeks and oceans.
Projects slated to begin this calendar year include rendering three more storm drains ocean-friendly; constructing offices and cost-controlled apartments for downtown workers on the south side of the Granada Garage, bike lanes through the Mission Street interchange, and a public restroom on the 900 block of State Street; widening and rehabilitating Mission Creek between Canon Perdido and Cabrillo streets; replacing the last of the slippery clay-tile sidewalks with brick pavers along the 400 and 500 blocks of State Street; and beautifying Milpas Street with wrought-iron railings, new bus stops, tree plantings, and more pedestrian lighting.