Friday, May 25 , 2018, 12:35 pm | Partly Cloudy 64º


Letter to the Editor: South Coast Wants It Both Ways with ‘Destinations,’ Road Limits

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Tom Anderle’s recent ruling on the Highway 101 widening appears based on an environmental impact report demand assuming that roads and freeways create traffic. Cars Are Basic Inc. disagrees.

“Destinations” bring tourists and car trips, not roads. Without “destinations,” you can build all the streets and highways you want and there will not be any traffic.

Cities can reduces car trips by eliminating “destinations.” If the City of Santa Barbara wants fewer cars on the streets, then it needs to stop funding things like Summer Solstice, the Fiesta Parade and Chamber of Commerce activities.

Tell the tourists the Santa Barbara Mission is for local Catholics only. Oh, and we’ll stop promotion of symphony and more. Stop high-density infill projects since each one increases car trips.

Want to stop people from coming to the beach? Have mandatory beach passes, available only to residents. Pull out the volleyball courts. Do not have a pass for the Fourth of July fireworks at the beach? You cannot watch them. Prohibit whale watching from vessels operating out of the Santa Barbara harbor, and refuse to allow cruise liners to drop anchor.

Tell the Chumash to stop advertising the casino since that is a destination affecting the South Coast.

A large percentage of the vehicles on Highway 101 are part of interstate travel, which increases servicing population growth in the California coastal zone. The motto of Santa Barbara and cities like it should be “Keep Santa Barbara brown,” do not come and spend your green. After all, this attitude is anti-tourist.

An unintended consequence of widening Highway 101 from State Street to Goleta was fewer surface street trips. “Locals” traveling from Goleta or Five Points to downtown Santa Barbara or the Eastside use the freeway instead of parallel surface streets. “Locals” use surface streets when 101 is affected with congestion. Why use backed-up 101 when Modoc makes it easier?

When the freeway is packed, who uses State, Modoc, Hollister, Cabrillo, etc.? People living in the area. Midday travel on the freeway makes trips of five miles or more easier, compared to surface streets with stop lights and stop signs.

“Destinations” create traffic, and all the excuses to the contrary will not change it. Whole Foods’ traffic and parking was a big fight. Any rational person understood there would be more traffic and congestion. A manager of one of the largest food stores on the Mesa stated that the city projections of car trips was off by a minimum of 100 percent. He was right. The congestion after 4 p.m. at entrances and exits of this “destination” is significant.

When the hotel is built on South Jameson Lane in Montecito, weekend car trips could easily be 200 as a result of the “destination.” That does not include the staff parking and trips. The vacant land on Cabrillo owned by the Parker estate has plans for another “destination” hotel.

Carpinteria is starting to experience this. They have been heavily promoting everything from the Avocado Festival to their alternative Fourth of July celebration. They just floated plans for a new hotel on the Rincon side, creating another “destination.” The result in Carpinteria is more cars on the streets.

If the cities of the South Coast would stop diversion of funds for “alternative transportation” — bulbouts without facts, failed bike paths, micro roundabouts, taking of lanes, etc. — there would be far more money for street maintenance. Staffing for planning will go away, along with costs of salaries and benefits. $1 million saved here and there goes a long way for street repair and efficiency.

“Destinations” will continue to draw and “increase” car trips along with population increases. It is the responsibility of cities promoting “destinations” to provide street capacity, not Caltrans.

Scott Wenz
President, Cars Are Basic

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