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Local News

Santa Barbara Planners OK Concepts for Bike Path, Milpas Street Housing Project

A four-story housing project and a 2.6-mile bike lane along Modoc and Las Positas roads clear hurdles on their way to development

The proposed bike lane would travel alongside Modoc Road and Las Positas Road and then head onto Cliff Drive, as shown in renderings for the Santa Barbara project. The city also hopes to build a roundabout at the Cliff Drive and Las Positas intersection.
The proposed bike lane would travel alongside Modoc Road and Las Positas Road and then head onto Cliff Drive, as shown in renderings for the Santa Barbara project. The city also hopes to build a roundabout at the Cliff Drive and Las Positas intersection. (RRM Design Group photo)

A 2.6-mile bike lane in western Santa Barbara and a four-story housing development under the city’s Average Unit Density program passed their Planning Commission conceptual reviews last week.

The bike lane, which has been on city planning to-do lists for years, would run along Modoc Road from the city’s western limit at Calle de Los Amigos east to Las Positas Road, and then south along Las Positas to Cliff Drive.

The AUD development is one of the latest projects to be proposed under the program. Earlier this month, three other AUD developments went before the city’s Architectural Board of Review, two of which are also four stories tall. 

No formal action was taken at either Planning Commission review.

The bike lane is geared toward both cyclists and pedestrians and intended to make active modes of transportation more attractive and feasible in that area.

The lane would also help patch up the city’s bike routes and better connect areas like Elings Park and Arroyo Burro Beach.

According to a report by city staff, the lane should be finished sometime between 2020 and 2025 and cost between $10 and $15 million. The project will be built alongside restoration efforts at the adjacent Las Positas Creek.

In 2014, the California Transportation Commission awarded the City of Santa Barbara $8.6 million through CaltransActive Transportation Program for walking and biking projects in town.

Of that, $1.4 million was for the lane’s preliminary design and environmental review. The city will likely look to the ATP later this year for construction funding, according to the staff report.

Earlier this year, the project received high praise from the Architectural Board of Review, and will make another stop at the ABR for design approval.

The next step, according to Ashleigh Shue, supervising civil engineer for the city’s Public Works Department, will take the project back to the Planning Commission for its environmental review and coastal development permit.

The preliminary designs were contracted to RRM Design Group.

The application for the housing complex at Milpas and Ortega streets was filed on behalf of 711 Milpas Street, LLC and required a conceptual review by the commission because it was both proposed under the AUD program and is over 15,000 square feet.

The four-story mixed-use development requires the demolition of two residential units and 27,000 square feet of retail and warehouse space, making room for the 51,065 square feet of residential space and 6,656 square feet of commercial floor area.

The complex would contain 73 units, 94 parking places, and 77 bicycle parking spots. 

Next week, the project will be reviewed by the planning department’s staff hearing officer before returning to the ABR for review and possible approval.

The city’s AUD program, created by an ordinance in 2013, is an attempt to build high-density, more affordable housing near commercial services, parks and public transit to provide units for middle-class residents. 

As of last month, 209 units have been approved under the program, while 337 are pending approval.​

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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