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Santa Barbara Installs Water-Saving Permeable Pavers Around Alice Keck Park Gardens

City has been replacing some of its sidewalks and asphalt areas with pavers that let water soak into groundwater basins

Santa Barbara recently replaced the sidewalks around Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens with permeable pavers to save water.
Santa Barbara recently replaced the sidewalks around Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens with permeable pavers to save water.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The city of Santa Barbara has been replacing some of its concrete sidewalks and asphalt streets with permeable pavers — specially designed, interlocking concrete slabs that allow for the water to soak into the basins underground — and its latest project put in pavers around the Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. 

Next up is replacing the concrete on the 700 and 800 blocks of Quarantina Street later this year, part of a $2.9 million project that also included replacing the concrete around Alice Keck Park and the alley next to Plaza Vera Cruz.

Santa Barbara received a grant for $2.3 million and plans to spend $600,000 of city money to pay for the rest of the project. 

By the time the city is done, it will have replaced 186,000 square feet, or 4.27 acres, of concrete or asphalt with permeable pavers.

The city has also installed permeable pavers at the Stevens Park, Westside Neighborhood Center Oak Park Tennis Court, and the Oak Park main parking lots. In those areas, more than 100,000 square feet of asphalt has been replaced. 

“We have such a huge infrastructure maintenance backlog in this city and to see a project like this that are installing projects that require much lesser maintenance than asphalt or even concrete, it’s really great to see,” said Parks & Recreation Commission Chairman Lesley Wiscomb.

The permeable pavers can catch up to 1 inch of rain every 24 hours. The city also likes them because they serve as natural filters to urban runoff, stopping much of the street pollution from reaching the ocean after it rains.

Permeable pavers, like the ones here around Alice Keck Park, have replaced concrete sidewalks and asphalt parking lots around Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Permeable pavers, like the ones here around Alice Keck Park, have replaced concrete sidewalks and asphalt parking lots around Santa Barbara.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Pavers have also replaced the asphalt parking lot at Mackenzie Park on Upper State Street. 

“The project overall when it was done, we were getting comments about how beautiful the parking lot is,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Ed Cavazos. 

Timothy Burgess, water resources specialist, said over the long term, the cost of asphalt and concrete maintenance is about the same as the permeable pavers, but the permeable pavers offer many environmental benefits that asphalt does not.

“Asphalt is cheap to put down initially, but asphalt doesn’t last very long,” Burgess said. “It requires a lot of maintenance.”

He said more private property owners are also starting to use permeable pavers to trap water and the city is will soon start tracking private party projects. 

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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