<b>YELLOW LIGHT:</b>  New scaled-back plans for a roundabout at Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road are a hit, but money remains a question.

courtesy city of s.b.

YELLOW LIGHT: New scaled-back plans for a roundabout at Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road are a hit, but money remains a question.

Roundabout or Stoplight at Cliff and Las Positas?

City Council Weighs Options, Benefits, and Price Differences

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
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So intense is the hostility to installing a new stoplight at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road that the Santa Barbara City Council is itching to spend an additional $600,000 to install a roundabout instead. The question, of course, is where that extra money will come from and at the expense of what other vital road repairs. City Hall has $750,000 in federal transportation dollars to build something to alleviate the rush-hour congestion at that intersection, which would cover the cost of a stoplight but not a roundabout. City Hall risks losing that money, however, if it doesn’t spend it in the next couple of years. Initially, the cost differential between the two choices was $1.1 million, but city traffic engineers figured how to whittle the gap down to $600,000.

Councilmembers were agreed that roundabouts — once reviled in town as something alien and exotic — are faster, quieter, more aesthetically pleasing, generate less congestion and exhaust, safer, and move cars through the intersection more efficiently. By contrast, the level of service there with a stoplight would gradually get worse and attract more collisions. Traffic engineer Derrick Bailey reported that roundabouts on average have 21 percent fewer collisions and 66 percent fewer injury collisions than stoplights do.

A few councilmembers were so opposed to a stoplight that losing the money and building nothing there would be preferable. Still, the additional cost remained a bone of contention for the roundabout. Cathy Murillo expressed concern that much-needed traffic improvements for the Eastside would suffer unfairly if the extra money was spent to make “a good neighborhood better.” Councilmember Dale Francisco said he couldn’t support spending so much extra money when a stoplight addressed 85 percent of the intersection’s needs. And Councilmember Bendy White lamented the sorry state of road repairs elsewhere throughout the city. But bean counters noted that City Hall finished the year with $4 million more than projected and that some of that could possibly be used for the roundabout. The discussion for how to spend that surplus is scheduled for next January. Based on that, the council voted to delay the decision.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Interesting to see seatneighbors Francisco and Murillo on the same side of an issue and both, imho, wrong. How could one be reasonably opposed to a traffic improvement that is "faster, quieter, more aesthetically pleasing, generate less congestion and exhaust, safer, and move cars through the intersection more efficiently."

That is a very, very busy intersection (unlike the footbridge at Cacique), daily generating wasted fuel and air pollution, and it has nothing to do with Murillo's slam at the Mesa (and Alan Road) residents about making their "good neighborhood(s) better." The contrasting Cacique neighborhood needs much more than an upgraded footbridge.

It would be nice if the city could everything for everyone and it is certainly true that the Cacique bridge is a problem (I walk there once or twice a week) but it does not equate with the T-bone intersection at Las Positas/Cliff. City revenues are increasing and this proposed round-about is a worthy project.

at_large (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This isn't only about making a good neighborhood better! This is about better access to a county beach, a county road, and access to the Mesa. It's about reducing pollution. It's about making a good decision which will affect traffic patterns for far into the future. I won't bring up my favorite non topic, in closing, about the ridiculous waste of money spent putting in red bricks for crosswalks down on Cabrillo Blvd. which later had to be paved over with .... asphalt!

sharpen123 (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

at_large, if you really walk there so often in the Eastside ("Cacique neighborhood") and even drive there too, you should know that particular el-cheapo, non-compliant footbridge is just one of a dozen readily known transportation improvements that the city has neglected, and knows about, for upwards of 25 or more years.

For your next venture slumming it in the hood, try walking on Montecito Street towards Salinas Street, forced into the traffic lane where no sidewalk nor space for one exists over the creek. Then push a baby carriage and/or escort some little kids while at it there. Enjoy the up-close and personal interaction with a tardy soccer mom in her Volvo (not even on her cell phone this time) as she screams downhill around the nearly blind corner from the Salinas Street roundabout.

Sure, a roundabout at Cliff / Las Positas would be a good project, and so would be many others in the Eastside and elsewhere, where a neglected neighborhood could become better as a mere good neighborhood. The city needs to put them all on the menu and order the combo plate, free of inter-neighborhood elitism and rivalries.

And we all personally need to invite our friends and families to stay in a Santa Barbara hotel this holiday season to bolster our bed tax revenue that pays for streets infrastructure!

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 11:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sharpen, the bricks you mention, besides being chump change, were paid out of now-defunct redevelopment funds, so no cigar there with that tired rhetoric. Just stick to the selfish argument that your neighborhood is more special than other neighborhoods, because that is what half of the public comment was about yesterday at city council.

Try instead to grow the economic public works pie so everyone has a streets project to gain here. The Mesa neighborhood already ate its first couple of pie slices when the city accepted the perpetual, unfunded maintenance requirements from the Cliff Drive relinquishment by Cal-trans.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 11:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Since the city now faces funding infrastructure backlog projects OR past city employee pensions promises, there is really no choice.

The city has to pay the past city pension promises made by prior city councils well ahead of any city maintenance projects.

No wonder so many key city employees are trying to get out now, before the rush on the city's growing unfunded pension liabilities hits the rest of the rank and file employees.

City infrastructure will continue to go down the toilet. This is what democracy looks like when you vote for pro-union city council members, election after election.

PS: I vote for a cheap roundabout.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 12:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thirty years ago I was very opposed to roundabouts and thought the Milpas Street roundabout would be a disaster. Today, I couldn't be happier with that intersection. There is barely a wait and it works very well as long as everyone remembers the rules. The level of service at that intersection must have doubled. This is what the Cliff/Los Positas intersection desperately needs. At rush hour the traffic can be backed up for half a mile on Los Positas. Lights may be cheaper but if we are going to spend money let's spend enough to get the best solution and not always wish we had.

Ezzyme (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 12:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Is there any way to just keep the roundabout super simple to keep the costs down? Sometimes Santa Barbara goes way overboard on the design with construction projects, and that's why they become so expensive. -- Remember the corn husk light fixtures with the Milpas roundabout? ;-)

csautot (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They could put in a round about for less than $100k if they wanted to.. It would also take less time to construct which would be a big relief to those who have to use it every day.

It only needs one lane, I don't think they need to make any alterations to the road or curbs.

Just put a very small round cement/plant structure in the center and paint some new lines. Done.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 1:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"How could one be reasonably opposed to a traffic improvement that is "faster, quieter, more aesthetically pleasing, generate less congestion and exhaust, safer, and move cars through the intersection more efficiently." '

Because IT ISN'T FREE. It's remarkable that the same people who say "There's no money! We're broke!" whenever it's about spending money on something they don't want are happy to completely ignore that fact that things cost money when it's something they do want.

JayB (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 4:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Murillo's slam"

How is calling something a good neighborhood a "slam"? It's your comment that is a slam against Murillo, a willful misrepresentation of her comment, which was about an equitable distribution of the city's limited resources. You might disagree with her, but it's dishonest to call her statement a "slam".

"This is what democracy looks like when you vote for pro-union city council members, election after election."

So you've already forgotten the Francisco/Hotchkiss/Rowse/Self majority?

The biggest problem in politics today is DISHONESTY, the vast majority of it coming from the right wing.

JayB (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 4:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Francisco-Hotckiss-Rowse-Self majority lasted but one or two wonderful years. Then this brief and shying moment was lost again in short order, now possibly forever.

Not time enough to make a difference, but nice you give them recognition for Morning in Santa Barbara for that all too short interlude. Voters proved don't like prudence and common sense. They do like pro-union promises. We now shall all live with the consequences.

And right now the city has no money for all its infrastructure needs and the rush to the exits by key city personnel for the last of the remaining city pension funds tells this progressive council deficit spending story better than anything else.

Biggest problem is past progressive city councils shot down town retail in the foot letting vagrants take over State Street, put the eco-freak kibosh on any thing that raises new revenues, let gangs ruins whole neighborhoods which depresses property values, turned 17% of all city housing over to subsidize low income residents forever, and there is clearly no political will or desire left in the rest of us to tax ourselves to pay for past progressive council excesses.

So what ya gonna do? City infrastructure takes it in the shorts. And city council majority members will refuse to read the new book by Muhlhausen proving the across the board failure of federal social programs, which can easily be translated to all city social programs too. Murillo, are you listening?

But bottom line: gimme a cheap roundabout, and reform city employee compensation and administrative-operational structure to pay for it.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 5:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

At John_Adams@ Thank you for pointing out something I already mentioned as being a non topic - you make the obvious more obvious! When they redid the area where I walk for the third time, I wondered if all the rubble, which ended up in the landfill, was also included in the long range cost? Maybe that's where we got the "chump change" idea of which you speak?

sharpen123 (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 5:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Corn stalk light fixtures on Milpas I believe came about because of a federal requirement to spend 2% of the grant funding in support of "art" on that particular project.

This was the city's response to pick a theme associated with the name Milpas where the bulk of the street improvement funds were spent.

There are plenty of other misuses of city funds that need to be remedied, but the corn stalk art gets the city a free pass.

Art project commitments were required in order to get the money in the first place. Not sure if this 2% for art requirement is still connected to receiving federal funds. Your tax dollars at work.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 20, 2013 at 7:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm looking at this round-about plan and it looks like they pushed it very far to the left (west into the tree grove) instead of to the right (east - dirt patch) towards Eling's Park. It seems very much ashamed to remove even more vegetation. I really think they should put a bike path and sidewalk to the south (way separated from traffic) near the creek for residents to be able to walk down from Cliff Dr. to Hendry's Beach.

sdpaia (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 10:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Of course Foo has problems supporting the Arts, that would imply Civilization.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 11:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey JayB, maybe you can explain to me what is so freakin' expensive about installing a round-about?

Go to the upper east side and checkout the one at Salinas/Yanonali/Sycamore Canyon/APS. Even that one is bigger than what is needed here because that is a 5 way intersection vs. a 3 way intersection.

All we are asking is to remove the stop signs, put a circular cement thing in the center and paint some lines and put up a couple yield signs.

When we have more money we can spruce it up. Or maybe some of the rich people who live around there will donate to help spruce it up. But it really shouldn't need to cost more than $5k or $10k in my opinion.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Vissi d'arte.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What is so expensive about installing a roundabout in this location? Caltrans. This is State Route 225, and anytime Caltrans gets involved, costs go way up.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 12:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Can we tell Caltrans to shove it?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 2:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

foo, David B. Muhlhausen's "new book" [ ] is another Heritage Foundation hit piece... try referencing some mainstream authors, eh?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 4:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Read the book, DD and quibble with the author over his well-documented and footnoted research. You need not be so afraid of new research and ideas DD. I think they found stimulating your brain cells fights off Alzheimer's Disease later on in life. Take a dose of new thinking. You may enjoy the experience.

Thank you for taking the time to at least track the book down. Too bad it is so pricey but maybe we can get the Library to purchase it for us, if they can get past all the vampire novels and supernatural futurist stuff they are wasting their money on for Santa Barbara's reading public.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 21, 2013 at 10:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm reading several different "new" books, foo, Heritage Fdtn. stuff doesn't make the list. Try Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk (Columbia U. Press, recent). You need help.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 6:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for this reference to a fascinating-sounding book!

at_large (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 7:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thank you Dylan Thomas, or as Simon and Garfunkel famously said - who ever that is.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 11:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That intersection has quite a bit of open space/wilderness next to it.

To put a bright stoplight there would be intrusive and invasive. Having a light flashing different colors 24/7 is out of character and out of touch with the environment.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 4:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with Georgy, right now there are flashing yellow lights at the intersection and that is not necessary. Some ambient street lighting is all that is needed with a round-a-bout.

Check this out:

German town abolishes traffic lights and codes. Accidents are now almost non-existent!
Bill Ottman

In this fascinating public experiment, a German town wanted to see what would happen to traffic flow if they got rid of street signs, lights and other restrictions. The results are intuitive, but not what you would expect! Everything got safer and faster. Would this model hold true for other areas of infrastructure? Drivers must give way to the left and not drive too fast. That's the only rule. Even the police love the new system, and best of all, people are safer on the road. Drivers are much more aware and use eye contact and instincts. People WANT to stop for other people and help things move more efficiently.

^ Traffic used to be a big issue when they had street lights, it would backup and get really slow through town. Now there is no more bad traffic.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

go cheap roundabout and be done with this.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 4:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

German village of Schilderwald talks about their traffic sign experience:

Google the net for a spoof about this experience too. Auf Deutsch but you get the idea because the suggested new signs speak for 1000 words.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 22, 2013 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Mesa is overpopulated and has many issues swept under the rug.

1. The leaking water tank at Kenwood and Fellowship, at some point the hillside will become over saturated by the leak.

2. The power grid that is very flakey and drops below 115volts, Silly Council needs to lean on Edison.

3. SBCC being a Junior College, the original JC mission was to provide AA degrees for SB County High School graduates and Adult Ed for local working adults. With the original mission redefined the traffic created is way more than originally planned.

4. Water - This summer will be telling - see overpopulated, water conservation issues far outweigh the roundabout.

Put in a signal and use the money saved to remeniate some of the other issues.

The Stepford Architects (Mesa Architects) have been pushing the roundabout for years. Why, well they make their money doing Development, talk about a conflict of interest.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 9:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

you're welcome, at large, we all have to deal with Rage and Time eventually, and eventually the City may put a $40,000 stoplight/crosswalk at Micheltorena St. & Dutton Ave [SuperCuca's #1 is right there], one of the Westside's most dangerous intersections. We need to remeniate [sic] this issue, too.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 9:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Take the single roundabout money and put it in signals at both Las Positas and SBCC to get all of Cliff Drive done right for the same amount of money.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 10:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Of course foofighter's response to me is the sort of intellectually dishonest nonsense expected of right wingers.

JayB (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"it really shouldn't need to cost more than $5k or $10k in my opinion"

loonpt's opinion is, as always, of no value.

JayB (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 12:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Give some people jobs and have a 24/7 cop direct traffic .

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

" the new book by Muhlhausen proving the across the board failure of federal social programs"

When a right winger says that something has been proved, what they mean is that it agrees with their preconceptions and ideological biases. Remarkably, throughout the entire history of humanity, no right winger has ever admitted to having a belief of theirs disproved.

In this case, even though Muhlhausen is a right wing ideologue funded by a right wing stink tank, what he actually told Congress flatly contradicts foofighter's claim: “Congress has no credible information on the performance of the overwhelming majority of federal social programs” -- if there's no credible information on performance, then one cannot possibly prove that they have failed. Muhlhausen has called for continuous, rigorous scientific experiments to determine whether programs are working ... there would be no need for that if the programs had already been proven to fail across the board. Muhlhausen at least attempts to sound reasonable; foofighter makes no such attempt, and clearly isn't.

The fact is, though, that Muhlhausen isn't a scientist, he's an ideologue, whose goal is to provide support for beliefs he already has (and is paid to have), not to seek truth. Since we know in every case what he will conclude, that he concludes them is not particularly interesting. Only by carefully weighing analyses from people with various positions and being *skeptical* of all claims can one reach the truth ... which, in broad outline, is that various programs have various levels of effectiveness, and that all can be improved. But the notion that, say, Social Security and Medicare are not effective is transparent hogwash.

JayB (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 1:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is a plan: keep pouring money into something, when no independent review of continued expenditures shows it is accomplishing its intended goals.

Brilliant. After all, there is plenty of money to keep throwing around and if it employs people to do exactly nothing, it is doing something. This progressive ideology does win votes so that is doing something too.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I keep seeing the name "Maulhausen" when perhaps--given that the root of this discussion is overpopulation--the word "Malthusian" would be apropos. Having said that, if the utopianists get their way, they will make all of Santa Barbara a car-free zone where you will only be allowed to ride a bike or walk. If you're not able to do these things...well, I guess we can work that out later.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 23, 2013 at 6:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is what you do with this "extra" four millions dollars in estimated city revenues this year:

Some sort of percentage COLA (only) to staff; but not an increase to their base pay, perks, benefits or pension obligations.

Then 50% to a $200 million plus unfunded pension liabilities trust account .

Then 50% to start hacking back the $200 million prioritized infrastructure repairs.

If CalTrans give you money to put in a signal, that is what you do unless this roundabout is near the top of city infrastructure needs and can then go to the head of the list for this "extra"city revenue this year.

Discipline, city council members. Discipline. Lack thereof got you into this mess. Don't sell out now for pet projects and pet constituencies. And for Gawd's sake don't dump it on any new social programs when you have a growing $400 million city debt obligations staring you in the face.


foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2013 at 10:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan: Super Cuca's is less than a 1/2 block from the traffic light @ Micheltorena & San Andres.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2013 at 3:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

correct, 14, but the additional traffic there where Dutton Ave [it's a narrow alley with 2-way traffic and always snarled] comes out, coupled with all that high-density housing near the 101 means this mixed setup: no light or crosswalk as scores of pedestrians, including a huge number of schoolkids, bicycles and skateboards zooming down from Micheltorena St bridge, backed-up traffic from the stoplight at San Andres/Micheltorena: such a dense pack and so much mixed activity would not be permitted up in San Roque or the heights of Mission Canyon or.... no, I am not a traffic engineer but this is a nasty situation, esp. with all the children... seems a lot more important AND a lot cheaper to solve than the Las Positas thing...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2013 at 7:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Round-a-bout = yes, exactly what is needed.
Stop lights = insanity/horrible idea. Fire or vote-out everyone involved in making that happen.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You come up with the money, and the round-about is all yours.

It is all about money. But first you have to pay off the $200 million plus the city is now in arrears for city employee pensions. And then there is $200 million in infrastructure backlog that is also begging for money, well ahead of this new Las Positas roundabout.

This is what happens when you live within your means and start paying off your accumulated debts that gobble up most of your present revenues.

You don't get everything you demand; no matter who you vote off and who you put in. You got money for the stop light. You didn't get money for the roundabout. Case closed.

Paying off city pensions come first; city infrastructure then comes in a poor second. Plus you have not even yet heard the hue and cry from present city workers when they see $4 million dollars is sitting on the table. Their bad morale has to be bought off too.

Live with the stop light. After the $400 million gets paid off that was racked up by past city councils, then we can talk again about getting your round-about. This is what austerity looks like.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
November 24, 2013 at 8:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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