Carts and Horses and Widening the 101

Destinations Create Traffic, Not Roads and Freeways

Judge Anderle’s recent ruling on the 101 widening appears based on an EIR demand assuming that roads and freeways create traffic. Cars Are Basic disagrees.

“Destinations” bring tourists and car trips, not roads. Without “destinations,” you can build all the streets and highways you want, there will not be any traffic.

Cities can reduce car trips by eliminating “destinations.” If the City of Santa Barbara wants fewer cars on the streets then it needs to stop funding things like Summer Solstice, the Fiesta Parade, and Chamber of Commerce activities. Tell the tourists the Catholic Mission Santa Barbara, is for local Catholics only; oh, and we’ll stop promotion of the symphony and more. Stop high-density infill projects since each one increases car trips.

Want to stop people from coming to the beach? Have mandatory beach passes, available only to residents. Pull out the volleyball courts. Do not have a pass for the 4th of July fireworks at the beach? You cannot watch them. Prohibit whale watching from vessels operating out of the Santa Barbara Harbor, and refuse to allow landing of cruise liners. Tell the Chumash to stop advertising the casino since that is a destination affecting the South County.

A large percentage of the vehicles on the 101 are part of interstate-travel increases servicing the population growth in the California Coastal Zone. The motto of Santa Barbara and cities like it should be “Keep Santa Barbara Brown”: Do not come and spend your green. After all, this attitude is anti tourist.

An unintended consequence of widening of 101 from State Street to Goleta was fewer surface street trips. “Locals” traveling from Goleta or 5 Points to downtown Santa Barbara or the Eastside use the freeway instead of parallel surface streets. “Locals” use surface streets when 101 is impacted with congestion. Why use backed-up 101 when Modoc makes it easier?

When the freeway is packed, who uses State, Modoc, Hollister, Cabrillo, etc.? People living in the area. Midday travel on the freeway makes trips of five miles or more easier compared to taking surface streets with stop lights and stop signs.

“Destinations” create traffic, and all the excuses to the contrary will not change it. Whole Foods traffic and parking was a big fight. Any rational person understood there would be more traffic and congestion. A manager of one of the largest food stores on the Mesa stated the city projections of car trips was off by a minimum of 100 percent. He was right. The congestion after 4 p.m. at entrances and exits of this “destination” is significant.

When the hotel is built in Montecito on South Jameson, weekend car trips could easily be 200 as a result of the “destination.” That does not include the staff parking and trips. The vacant land on Cabrillo owned by the Parker Estate is planned to be another “destination” hotel. Carpinteria is starting to experience this. The city has been heavily promoting everything from the Avocado Festival to its “alternative” 4th of July celebration. The city just floated plans for a new hotel on the Rincon side, creating another “destination.” The result in Carpinteria is more cars on the streets.

If the cities of South County would stop diversion of funds for “alternative transportation” — bulbouts built without facts, failed bike paths, micro roundabouts, taking of lanes, etc. — there would be far more money for street maintenance. Staffing for planning would go away, along with costs of salaries and benefits. A million saved here and there goes along way for street repair and efficiency.

“Destinations” will continue to draw and “increase” car trips along with population increases. It is the responsibility of cities promoting “destinations” to provide street capacity, not Caltrans.

Scott Wenz is president of Cars Are Basic.


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