Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council:
I am 15-year resident of the Mesa. The horrific accident Tuesday night is impacting all of our community and Santa Barbara at large. There is only one potential upside of this awful tragedy, and that would be to continue to work of Thomas Ochsner and Mesa Architects and finally make Cliff Drive safe. Obviously with this accident and several recent others, the measures already taken to slow traffic, while helpful, are not nearly powerful enough.
I cannot think of more dangerous section of road in all of Santa Barbara than this stretch of Cliff between the Mesa Center and S.B. City College — it’s a miracle that the accidents on this section of Cliff have not affected more than just the drivers up until now. The drivers need to be protected and we should not need to wait for a child to get killed by this death zone of speed through the heart of a residential neighborhood.
I know that the city has several pressing issues and financial concerns, but these poor people have already paid the ultimate price three times over — I cannot imagine there are many more greater costs associated with what needs to happen. Furthermore, I understand that the state is willing to contribute $1,000,000 to help correct the potential for fatal accidents such as these.
Research on the Internet shows that the suggestions below could be paid for by the $1,000,000. Regardless of even the state money, smaller problems have been solved, smaller challenges overcome to save lives; and that’s what needs to happen here. Now. Immediately.
There are times for debate and times for action. This is a time for the latter. And if there are several different proposals and theories about how to slow traffic on that section of Cliff, the simplest, safest, and most cost-effective would be as follows:
(1) Stop sign with flashing red light at La Marina
(2) Stop sign with a crosswalk at Terrace/San Rafael
(3) Stop sign with a crosswalk at Santa Cruz
The overall logic of these three locations is that they are roughly spaced across one-third of the distance between the two signals at Mesa Center and SBCC and, therefore, keep anyone from building up too much speed before having to stop again.
Furthermore, each of these has its own additional reasons why traffic should stop at these points.
(1) La Marina, being the main thoroughfare from Cliff and the upper Mesa to Shoreline Park and the beach, is the busiest intersection on the stretch of road. It does not need a full traffic signal, but a flashing red light would make a significant difference. More than just a stop sign is required because of the danger of cars coming down the hill headed eastbound at speed due to this being the longest stretch from a signal. And this is the point at which the neighborhood becomes even more residential in character.
(2) Terrace/San Raphael is not quite spaced at the one-third distance. However, it is a critical juncture because the stop sign would slow people before heading into the curve and hill headed eastbound — which likely would’ve prevented the deaths in this accident. Also, very importantly, turning from Terrace onto Cliff is currently a very dangerous proposition. Cars hurtle up the hill headed westbound, and the view of this traffic is impaired by street parking and especially by the hill and curve.
(3) Santa Cruz also makes sense because it helps break up the stretch between Terrace/San Raphael and the Mesa Center. It is also thoroughfare through to Shoreline Drive, access point to the Marine Terrace neighborhood, and has more traffic than other intersections due to the Methodist Church.
What are the costs? Again, beyond the state funds available, does anyone really want to put a price tag on the heads of these three lives? On the life of whoever is next?
Aside from the people, who would bear the greatest “cost” would be the residents of the Mesa who would have their trips take just a little longer. I do not know of a single resident of the Mesa — and have talked to many in my 15 years there — who would not gladly pay this cost to be vastly safer driving Cliff, not to mention being able to cross the street without putting one’s life, or their children’s, at stake.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and more importantly, I am looking forward to seeing action from you and the other members of City Council and the mayor.