Cars don’t stop for pedestrians in Santa Barbara’s Eastside neighborhood.
That was a major complaint voiced by residents Saturday during a traffic- and pedestrian-safety workshop hosted by Santa Barbara’s Public Works Department.
The meeting at Franklin School’s auditorium was seen as the first step in getting citizen input for improvements in the area.
Transportation project planner Jessica Grant organized residents into tables where each person could talk about concerns regarding speeding, lighting, missing sidewalks and access ramps, bicycling and bus transit.
City staff members facilitated the discussions, helped by printed maps, so residents could pinpoint the most problematic streets and intersections.
“I do have some ground rules: the whole purpose today is to hear Eastside residents only,” Grant said. “There are City Council members here, representatives from Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s office, and advisory groups, but you’re here today just to observe.
“If you are a business owner or resident in the area, or on the border of the Eastside neighborhood, you’re welcome to participate.”
A group led by Steve Foley, a transportation planner, talked about speeding on Salinas Street, which makes it dangerous for pedestrians and residents trying to back out of their driveways.
Councilwoman Cathy Murillo translated for Spanish-speaking members of one group, relaying that that people with strollers or children in wheelchairs know exactly what corners are missing ramps or curb cuts.
They sometimes have to go in the street until they can get back on the sidewalk at a driveway, she said.
Throughout the meeting, residents were pointing out specific streets where speeding — and ignoring pedestrians — was a problem.
Some of the worst offenders are people driving their children to school, which stresses out the families who are walking, one mother said.
Rodolfo Galindo, a crossing guard at Montecito and Voluntario streets near the Eastside Public Library, sees this firsthand every day.
“Nobody respects me,” he said. “People make stops California-style, or not at all.”
Galindo has been a crossing guard for three years, and he helps at least 75 children across the street before and after school.
At Saturday’s meeting, he was asking for more enforcement by police.
“They need more action around the schools before something happens,” he said. “Yesterday, a kid was hit by a car at Voluntario and Cota.”
Recently, Galindo helped a woman who was being bitten by a dog that escaped from a yard, said Officer Adrian Gutierrez, beat coordinator for the Eastside.
Galindo and some nearby construction workers ran over to help, and Galindo repeatedly hit the dog with his stop sign, Gutierrez said.
Beyond speeding, residents also talked about areas without any streetlights, such as Punta Gorda, Indio Muerto, Salinas and Voluntario streets. City employees made notes to figure out the most-used walking paths, and perhaps find solutions that prioritize those.
Most residents said they walk much more than they bike, but residents mentioned cycling issues, including bicyclists riding without lights at night, cars opening their doors without looking for cyclists, and trucks and buses stopping in the bike lane.
In early April, the city will respond to the concerns and present possible solutions.