Pixel Tracker

Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 11:37 pm | Fair 51º


Goleta Leaders Celebrate Groundbreaking of San Jose Creek Improvement Project

The channel will be widened to increase water capacity, and passages will be installed for migrating steelhead trout

More than a decade in the making, the San Jose Creek Improvement Project is under way after Thursday’s celebratory groundbreaking ceremony.

The creek has long been troublesome for Old Town Goleta and formerly meandered through the center of town before Caltrans realigned the creek to run parallel with Highway 217 when it was built in the 1960s.

The city learned over time, however, that the creek wasn’t big enough for the amount of water that came rushing in after heavy rains.

“It’s just not large enough to pass the flows that come through,” said Steve Wagner, Goleta’s director of Community Services.

The area saw particularly heavy flooding in the late 1990s. Click here to view some of the photos of the flooding.

When Goleta became a city in 2002, it inherited the project from the county’s purview. The Goleta City Council voted in June to award contracts for the project.

As part of the improvements, the creek’s channel will be made wider to increase capacity. The bottom of the creek will also be fashioned to mimic a natural creek bottom, and fish passages will be installed to allow steelhead trout to pass through to the ocean, which they were able to do before Caltrans rerouted the creek.

The first phase of the project will cost $22 million, with that funding coming from the city, the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District, the California Department of Fish & Game, the Department of Water Resources, Proposition 84 monies and the Goleta Valley Land Trust.

Funding for the second part of the project, which will include replacing the Hollister Avenue bridge across the creek, will come from the Highway Bridge Program.

Starting south and moving north, work will begin on the creek near the drive-in theater and continue to just south of the Hollister Avenue bridge. The Blue Ox Commercial Center will bookend the project’s north point, and continue along Kellogg Avenue.

It’s the largest capital project in the city’s history, according to Mayor Margaret Connell.

“With this project done, it’s going to be a great day for Old Town,” she said.

Had Redevelopment Agency funding been a large part of the project’s finances, Connell said it would have been much harder to proceed. But the city was able to sell bonds, keeping funding for the project safe, she said.

RDA funding is in question at the state level, and the state Supreme Court is expected to hear the case Thursday. It will decide whether lawmakers can eliminate redevelopment agencies or whether local agencies have a right to keep the tax money.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was on hand Thursday to commend the city, as was county Supervisor Janet Wolf.

Capps said 200 parcels lining the creek will be out of the floodplain when the project is completed, which will mean insurance savings for those owners. She also commended the city for its design to enable steelhead trout to pass through.

“Restoration is what we want to accomplish here,” Capps said.

Wolf said the flooding in the 1990s spanned back to her term on the school board. District leaders had to coordinate with children and families to call off school during the flooding, and “it was a big deal for this community,” she said. “This is a great moment for the county and city.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >