Friday, November 27 , 2015, 7:45 am | Partly Cloudy 43º

Measure Y Opponents Claim Bridge Would Damage Creek

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider among those opposing initiative that would allow access across Arroyo Burro Creek

From left, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Councilman Bendy White, Parks and Recreation Commission chairwoman Lesley Wiscomb and Alan Road neighbor Ramona Escobar oppose Measure Y, the Veronica Meadows ballot initiative, which would allow a developer to build a bridge on undeveloped city property designed as parkland.
From left, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Councilman Bendy White, Parks and Recreation Commission chairwoman Lesley Wiscomb and Alan Road neighbor Ramona Escobar oppose Measure Y, the Veronica Meadows ballot initiative, which would allow a developer to build a bridge on undeveloped city property designed as parkland.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Opponents of Measure Y on Monday fired the latest volley in the ongoing verbal battle over a ballot initiative that would allow a developer to build a bridge across city-controlled land — and Arroyo Burro Creek — to provide access to a luxury-home project.

The 25-home Veronica Meadows development already has been approved by the Santa Barbara City Council, but a lawsuit brought by the Citizens Planning Association forced developer Mark Lee to seek voter approval for using a strip of undeveloped property designated as parkland by the city.

At a news conference Monday near the Arroyo Burro Estuary and Mesa Creek restoration site, Measure Y opponents asserted that the initiative should be defeated because the bridge to the project will have a negative impact Arroyo Burro Creek, and increase traffic in the Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive area.

The group also rejected an argument put forth by Measure Y supporters — that private money was necessary to restore the creek.

Measure Y will be voted on by city residents in the June 5 election.

Among those in attendance was Mayor Helene Schneider, who argued that Measure B city creek funding can be used for creek restoration in partnership with grant funding, as it was for the estuary project.

Environmental attorney Marc Chytilo is leading the No on Y campaign, which is supported by three City Council members, a number of Alan Road residents and many board and commission members.

Allowing private developers to use city parkland for projects is a dangerous precedent, Schneider said.

The environmental impact report shows the bridge and creek plan shows permanent adverse impacts to the creek, Chytilo added.

“It’s our Yosemite Valley; why would you want to give it away?” he asked.

Proponents of the bridge project say it will come with creek restoration and a safer pathway to connect Elings Park to the beach, all funded by Lee. But Schneider noted that the cost of maintaining and repairing the bridge will be borne by taxpayers.

The open space Lee says the project will provide is a few dozen acres of privately owned, steep land that couldn’t be developed anyway, but will still be private property, Chytilo said.

Council members Bendy White and Cathy Murillo said the “gift” of city parkland wouldn’t provide a community benefit.

“I don’t just say no to Y, I say hell no to Y,” said Murillo, adding that she never would have supported it as a councilwoman.

Second District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf, former Mayor Sheila Lodge, Planning Commissioner John Jostes, Parks and Recreation Commission chairwoman Lesley Wiscomb, Urban Creeks Council member Eddie Harris, and many neighbors turned out Monday morning to oppose Measure Y.

Many Alan Road residents have campaign signs in their yards, with the vast majority opposing the project, although that wasn’t always the case.

Some had supported the project because it would avoid more traffic through the neighborhood, but now have concerns for the creek environment and encroachment on backyards that border the creek.

“I feel now that we were duped,” resident Ramona Escobar said.

Alan Road resident Daniel McCarter invited people to his backyard after the news conference to see the creek and city-owned land.

Residents on the west side of the road border the creek, and some have property boundaries that include the creek and about 30 feet on the other side, just west of the city parkland and Las Positas Road. McCarter is worried about disturbing the entire creek environment and the species that make it their home, such as western pond turtles, dusky-footed wood rats, frogs and herons.

At night, so many frogs come out that the sound drowns out the cars — and keeps the mosquitos away, he said.

Monday’s news conference comes on the heels of similar event held last week by Measure Y supporters, including former Mayor Marty Blum, Councilman Dale Francisco, former Councilman Dan Secord, Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce president Steve Cushman and other community leaders.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 05.08.12 @ 04:08 PM

What a load of unfettered crap. “It’s our Yosemite Valley; why would you want to give it away?” Chytilo typifies the parasitic useless nature of environmental legalism.

Here is an idea, instead of wasting huge amounts of energy, trees cut down for paper and time spent producing negative value for society, why doesn’t the city widen Las Positas to 4 lanes, build the damn bridge, connect it to Alan Road and actually stop catering to the friggen whiners in this town that live off trust funds and have no useful purpose in life but to get in everyone else’s way?

You live in a damned city people, if you don’t like it sell your house to someone who appreciates that fact and move to the country, if the locals will put up with your meddling obstructionism.

The creek, by the way, does not need your help, and the Urban Creeks Council is the worst thing that ever happened to our city. They destroyed our neighborhood and will yours too. These idiots haven’t got a clue how to not only protect our creeks but how best to integrate then into the urban environment, just a bunch of knee jerking imbeciles.

» on 05.08.12 @ 05:25 PM

Just when I thought that the people of Santa Barbara were actually getting more evolved I read this story. One of its [the story] arguments is that it would raise traffic. I hate traffic like all you so I am all ears when I hear this. But what new traffic?  To the degree that it is a factual reality and not a delusional perception begs more than just a mere mention. What I truly believe is that I like progress more than I hate traffic, especially in an economic system that needs new inflows and recurring revenue to support old and mounting costs associated with past projects. As a two bit economist I think that Santa Barbara badly needs quality and clean dollars that contribute to the revenue stream. Grant House said it best when he said that the creek needs work and the dollars are really short of what it would take to do a restoration project.  If you take a look at it you will conclude as I have that there has got to be shovels and bull dozers to fix what mother nature has eroded over time.  Back to the traffic. When While Foods came to town a few years back I would just bet that hundreds of people, that once drove Las Positas,  stopped driving to Lazy Acres and now hardly never go on Los Positas. Another example, when the Brown Pelican at Henry’s Beach closed and the new Boathouse restaurant came in its place did you ever wonder that their success as restaurant owners has translated to more cars? Vote your consensus but don’t when the facts are just plain wrong.

» on 05.08.12 @ 06:47 PM

So the 20 square feet of bridge on either side of the creek is too much damamge to trade for the rest of the entire creek to be restored and for a safe pedestrian path to the beach? Give me a break.

» on 05.08.12 @ 07:40 PM

It is the usual naysayer crowd attending this rally. They show up at all the Democratic Party and ultra-liberal events. I wonder why our numbskull Congresswoman wasn’t there. I have to begrudgingly complement Blum and some others for actually departing from their usual ideological agenda to do the right thing here.

AN50, I like it when you’re taking no prisoners. Good to see you in fighting form this afternoon.

» on 05.08.12 @ 09:18 PM

Santa Barbara is too crowded, Hendry’s Beach is too crowded, the parking lots at 5 points and Loretta Plaza are too crowded, the intersection at Los Positas and Cliff is too crowded, the intersection at Los Positas and Calle Real is too crowded, too many people walking at Wilcox.  I don’t want more congestion in this area.

» on 05.09.12 @ 12:23 PM

Nothing gets my ire up like the No Nothing Never crowd here in town Lou. Reality Check, your perspective is rather narrow. I suggest you travel a bit more and see how they live everywhere else. Also, you must consider that the “crowded” feeling you get here is by design, since we have experienced little growth in the last 40 years. Every parking lot, street, housing development designed and built in the last 40 years was done to minimalists standards to discourage growth and coerce people from their cars. Welcome to the land of Oz where up is down and down is up. You now live in a town that actually preferred to give you the feel of LA so that it could prevent LA from happening here.

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