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Goleta Gives Go-Ahead for Stop Signs at Perilous Intersection

A project for the corner of Calle Real and Los Carneros Road is among several topics up for City Council discussion

Improvements to a local intersection, a change in plans for a controversial hotel and good news/bad news for an Old Town project were among topics the Goleta City Council discussed Tuesday evening.

The council unanimously approved a project that would result in the placement of two more stop signs at the corner of Calle Real and Los Carneros Road in Goleta.

According to a recent traffic study, the intersection was the site of seven accidents in 2008, most likely because of limited visibility for drivers on westbound Calle Real entering Los Carneros Road with a left-hand turn. Cars traveling in the right-hand turn lane of northbound Los Carneros Road have a tendency to block the Calle Real drivers’ lines of sight, Community Services Director Steve Wagner said. Despite their attempts to improve the lines of sight, he said, city staff members have not been able to better the accident pattern at the intersection.

“This intersection does meet the warrants for the stop signs,” Wagner said.

There is currently only one stop sign at the northwest corner of the intersection, which modifies speeds on westbound Calle Real.

The project would add two more stop signs to regulate speeds on the north and southbound lanes of Los Carneros Road. According to Wagner, adding more stop signs may not significantly impact traffic at the intersection, but the city will continue to monitor traffic flow at the intersection.

The stop signs may end up being just be an interim measure; future plans for this intersection may include a roundabout.

Council members Tuesday also unanimously approved a change of plans for the development of a Marriott Residence Inn, a controversial project to be located on Hollister Avenue just across from the Santa Barbara Airport.

The project, which got its approvals last November despite outcry from the local Chumash community for its location on sensitive cultural ground, has been the subject of a lawsuit levied at both the developer, RD Olson Development, and the city for what was seen as an inadequate environmental review.

At the behest of the developer, the city agreed to rescind its Mitigated Negative Declaration pending a full Environmental Impact Report.

Goleta also took another step closer toward having its own official municipal code, as the council Tuesday unanimously approved the eventual publication of the first book to document the policies the city has created since its incorporation.

When Goleta incorporated in 2002, it adopted the pre-existing county code for the area, as the new municipality got on its feet and made its own decisions. In the seven years of its existence, city councils have changed and added some rules. Other policies, which related to other areas in the county, have been taken out by city staff, resulting in a document that Goleta wants to call its own.

The upcoming municipal code will not be the final document, City Attorney Tim Giles said. The council and the public will have a chance to analyze and give input on the contents of the municipal code.

With Councilman Ed Easton recused because of his home’s proximity to the project, the council gave its nod to yet another change to the San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement Project.

Called by Councilman Eric Onnen as the “proverbial money pit” of Old Town, the project aims to prevent the periodic flooding of Old Town Goleta in an effort to make conditions better for local residents, and open the door to revitalization of the area. Through the years it has endured several changes and delays, including the inclusion of a fish passage project and a bridge replacement project, which later was eliminated through additional engineering, saving millions of dollars.

According to staff, a peer review of the project revealed several inconsistencies in the geotechnical aspect of the project — soil analysis resulted in a more complex composition. A Caltrans review of the Hollister Avenue bridge — if found to be unhealthy — might result in state funding for its replacement. According to Project Manager Rosemarie Gaglione, while the project would be delayed yet again, the potential additional state funding could cut costs and result in a structurally streamlined project.

The council approved a $520,000 contract with local company Bengal Engineering for analysis of the San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement Project. According to Gaglione, with the delay, construction could begin in the first part of 2011.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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