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Local News

Arroyo Burro Restoration Project Starts Near Las Positas Road in Santa Barbara

Former Veronica Meadows site planned for development will be focus of project to reduce erosion, improve downstream water quality

creek bed Click to view larger
Santa Barbara is starting restoration work on the Arroyo Burro Open Space area near Las Positas Road.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The city of Santa Barbara is moving ahead with its plan to restore Arroyo Burro Open Space, two years after it acquired the land. 

The $1.6-million project will restore 1,400 linear feet of Arroyo Burro Creek, which is currently in a degraded state.

The City Council approved a series of contracts on June 26 to move forward with a massive restoration. 

The bank, next to Las Positas Road, suffers from significant erosion, deeply incised creek banks, debris within the creek channel, and numerous non-native invasive species, such as arundo.

"Some of the failures currently on the property that we are hoping to remediate include bank erosion as well as trying to recreate flood plain habitat that was lost and removing non-native vegetation and restoring it with natives," restoration planner Erin Markey said. 

The project is part of a 14.7-acre parcel in the Las Positas Valley along Arroyo Burro Creek. The city collaborated with the Trust for Public Land to acquire the former Veronica Meadows site.

The open space was once owned by developer Mark Lee, who had proposed to build luxury mansions on the site. The housing proposal sparked a lawsuit and opposition from environmentalist and housing activists, but the what ultimately sank the project was a public vote.

In order to the build the project, the developer would have had to build a bridge over Arroyo Burro Creek; since the creek and area around is a passive piece of public land, voters needed to approve the use of a public space for private developers.

Measure Y, as it it was known, failed, and the developer had little choice but to negotiate a sale of the land to the Trust for Public Land.

Crews plan to reduce channel erosion to increase storm flow infiltration, improve water quality conditions downstream, and improve conditions for wildlife.

The city says restoration measures will increase increase native plant diversity and improve habitat for wildlife species. It will take about five months to complete the project. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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