Responding to concerns raised by a chamber-full of Mesa neighborhood residents concerned about traffic safety problems on Cliff Drive and Los Positas Road—otherwise known as State Highway 225—the Santa Barbara City Council voted 5-2 to initiate the process to take control over these roads from CalTrans. Mesa residents have long expressed frustration that CalTrans has ignored their concerns about the lack of crosswalks, street lights, and stop signs along this stretch of road which CalTrans insists should be planned for and engineered as a state highway, not a neighborhood thorough fare.
While all council members agreed City Hall—and not the state—should be in charge of 225, many expressed fear of the impending financial burden such control would bring. In addition, they worried about possible legal exposure should accidents occur along 225 before safety-minded improvements could be made. At a time City Hall is looking at a shortfall just shy of $3 million, many councilmembers cringed at the one-time cost of $750,000—plus annual maintenance expenditures of $355,000. Although a majority of council members ultimately voted to begin the lengthy bureaucratic dance known as “relinquishment,” councilmembers Frank Hotchkiss and Michael Self argued the time was not right and voted no. If Cliff Drive and Las Positas were unsafe, Self said, the solution was more enforcement.