Thanks to the County and City of Santa Barbara for progress on making our region more bike-friendly and accessible.
The county now has a unique grant opportunity to complete a missing gap in the popular Coastal Access Route by connecting the Obern Trail from Goleta to the City of Santa Barbara’s newest bike paths on Modoc and Las Positas. This would facilitate much-needed, safe access to schools, beaches, neighborhoods, and UCSB. However, some community members object that doing so would mean the loss of up to 63 trees.
Both are right. The trees along Modoc are lovely, and the stately Canary Island palms should be preserved. Decision makers should choose an option that minimizes the loss of trees. In fact, one path under consideration reduces removal to 41 trees, with the opportunity to further minimize the loss of mature trees to far less than that. Most trees removed would be eucalyptus, a non-native and highly flammable tree. As a mitigation, the County could plant 60-120 oak trees, which are both native and fire resistant, a better long-term choice given climate change and hotter, windier conditions.
Improving our bike infrastructure in the Santa Barbara region by linking up our most popular multi-use paths is critical for poorer residents, students, young people, pedestrians, the handicapped, and all of us who would like to drive less and enjoy this urban preserve more easily.
Modoc has a relatively high accident rate. In fact, a biker was killed on that stretch of road a few years ago. We desperately need a bike and pedestrian path there, but the county should minimize tree loss and impacts to the Modoc preserve.