WEATHER »

San Ysidro Road Doesn’t Need Walkway


I think everyone opposed to the project to construct a decomposed granite sidewalk along San Ysidro Road agrees improvements can made. But this project is excessive, intrusive and a waste of money.

Mr. Carbajal, you have lost my vote. [Salud Carbajal, who represents Montecito on the County Board of Supervisors, has supported the project.]

While proponents claim this project was a result of a “true community partnership,” it was actually a partnership between some Montecito Union School parents, school officials, and COAST, who pushed this concept through with very little input from the Montecito community at large. Instead of working with property owners on San Ysidro from the outset, proponents decided to make exaggerated claims about the state of the current foot path, support from the community, the number of children who would use a new path if it was built, etc. The result was a design that looks very much like a concrete sidewalk going over 3,000 feet up San Ysidro, with Americans with Disabilities Act-mandated concrete curb ramps, plastic warning surfaces, stabilized decomposed granite, and the removal of historic trees.

People opposed to the project are not against having a safe pathway on San Ysidro! In fact, every single property owner south of Wyant Road (about half of the entire proposed pathway stretch) has worked hard to clear a safe, level area on which pedestrians can walk outside of the roadway. Can more be done to improve this current pathway? Absolutely, but these recent efforts show that there is a common sense solution here that both respects pedestrian safety and keeps the main entrance into Montecito beautiful. The County can eliminate serious erosion concerns north of Wyant by simply building up the curbs, which are currently non-existent. With these kinds of simple solutions, we can have a pathway that is safe, is easy to maintain, costs a lot less to build than $400,000 of taxpayer money, and respects the semi-rural character of Montecito.

I hope that you will walk the current pathway and attend the meetings to decide for yourself. We don’t need COAST-type street “improvements” in our community. What we need is a little bit of common sense.

Over 650 Montecito residents and other community members have signed a petition against the County’s project, and this number includes the majority of property owners on the west side of San Ysidro Road, former teachers at MUS, board members of the Montecito Trails Foundation, and even MUS parents who were mislead into signing the original petition. Now that’s a true community partnership!

Courtney Dietz and the others affiliated with COAST would like everyone to believe that this was a community-supported decision, that it’s about child safety, that the “pathway” will be meandering and landscaped, and that there are only a few residents opposing this… . I ask you to check your facts before you support them or make any more comments. I did. COAST worked with Montecito Union School and approached only parents of the students, with a petition manipulatively talking of child safety and a natural pathway. Who wouldn’t think that’s a good idea? They acquired 400 signatures of MUS parents in support of something they did not look into.

Many of these parents have now changed their minds regarding this sidewalk, because they were misinformed by those trying to push this through. In reality, most Montecito residents are still just learning of this project and the massive effects it will have. And most are upset. The current petition against this sidewalk has over 650 signatures and its growing.

If this is really about child safety, why are they choosing the road with the most space to walk, which includes a three-to-five-foot-wide dirt path and a bike lane? I walk or run San Ysidro Road everyday, and it is by far the safest street in Montecito to walk. If this is really about child safety, maybe they should take a look at building a natural meandering path along East Valley Road or School House Road, where there is nowhere to walk, not even a bike lane. If this is really about child safety, why is COAST so opposed to working with the residents in actually constructing a pathway (not a decomposed granite sidewalk) that fits in with the character of Montecito, and is approved by the residents?

The residents against this federally funded sidewalk are not against a safe path for children, they simply do not want an urban sidewalk in this beautiful rural area. COAST is the group behind the new roundabout at the end of Coast Village Road. Drive over and take a look. That is their idea of a project that fits into our community? A few desert cacti and woodchips, sidewalks with curb cuts and bright yellow ramps, bright blinding lighting at night, and increased traffic? Do not let this group come in and take over Montecito with these urbanized projects.

We have the accident report that goes back several years, and there have been no incidents or accidents along this pathway. In fact the only incidents of any kind have occurred up by the entrance of Montecito Union School where they already have sidewalks. If you are worried about safety and avoiding speeding cars, and drivers on their phones, whether you pave a sidewalk with decomposed granite or walk on a dirt path doesn’t matter. A car that swerves up onto a dirt path will just as easily swerve up onto a DG sidewalk. It’s simple: Lower the speed limit

I also have a conflict-of-interest question. Matt Doberteen works for County Public Works. He is the lead county agent in charge of rowing this Carbajal-blessed “Safe Routes to School” project through the straits of Montecito. Today at the Montecito Association, on behalf of the government, Doberteen is presenting what taxpayers would hope would be the county’s objective case. Matt Doberteen is also on the board of COAST. Isn’t this a pretty apparent conflict of interest, and shouldn’t Doberteen step aside?

So I ask you: Why waste the money? It seems there are a lot of people willing to make improvements without big business and government getting involved. I say send the money back. That $400,000 could pay 10 people $40,000 for a year. I’m sure there are at least 10 unemployed people with families out there that could use the money more than Montecito needs to pave an already existing walkway. I’m sure there are actual locations that actually need a safe path to school. And by taking this money, you are denying an area that is in need.–Heather Dawn, Montecito



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