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The Carpinteria Planning Commission unanimously approved a new multi-use path connecting Carpinteria Avenue and Santa Claus Lane, and filling a missing link in the 1,200-mile California Coastal Trail.

The 0.8-mile path would stretch along the southern edge of Highway 101 from the intersection of Sand Point Road and Santa Claus Lane in Santa Barbara County to Estero Way in Carpinteria, and it will include a “dedicated bike and pedestrian path” scheduled to be completed in 2023. The plan was approved 5-0 in a public hearing on Monday.

“I think it’s a great project, and I’m really proud I’ve been part of it since the beginning,” said Commissioner John Moyer. “I’m eager to see it come to fruition.”

Moyer mentioned that he used to commute to work by bike through the same area, which he said was a “boring,” at times “dangerous” ride, and commended the project for making the spaces more easily accessible for the public.

One of these safety measures was the redesign of the Carpinteria Avenue off-ramp, which was updated from a “straightaway” to a “double-curve,” which forces drivers to slow down, something that several commissioners mentioned made the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

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Chair Jane Benefield praised the team effort between the City of Carpinteria, County of Santa Barbara, and Caltrans for working together to make the new path a reality. “I’m impressed with the coordination efforts that have been going on for a very long time,” Benefield said. “It’s always nice when there’s no conflict.”

Carpinteria has already approved the project through the Architectural Board of Review, and the Planning Commission granted a Conditional Use Permit and a Coastal Development Permit, greenlighting the construction process to begin next year and the project to be unveiled in 2023. Design elements suggested throughout the process include the sandstone walkway, concrete bike path, and several protective walls and railings along the wetlands, railroad, and highways. All landscaping and building materials were selected to match the coast’s aesthetics and other elements in the area.

Santa Barbara County is currently in the process of approving its section of the trail, which extends about 820 feet of the trail on the Santa Claus Lane side, but the project planners expect that the path will be approved. As part of the agreement, Carpinteria and the county will be responsible for maintaining the pathway and Caltrans will maintain the walls and sections near the highway and railroads.

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