Goleta’s proposal to reduce Hollister Avenue from four lanes to two lanes in Old Town, and modify parking and bike lanes in the area, has been getting mixed reactions from locals ahead of a special City Council meeting Thursday to discuss the project.
The council is holding a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on the Hollister Avenue Old Town Interim Striping Project to receive community input.
The option being considered for the project would reduce Hollister Avenue from four lanes to two lanes — one in each direction — and add back-in angled parking along the north side of Hollister and a buffered bike lane between the parking and traffic lanes in each direction.
Goals of the project include increasing parking availability, improving traffic safety, reducing speeds and maintaining vehicle traffic flow.
City staff are still working on the environmental review, final design and other stages of the project, but the project has been expedited after positive feedback at the September workshop.
“Based on the turnout and positive feedback received at the workshop, the city decided to expedite this project by converting the second planned community meeting into a special City Council hearing,” community relations assistant Jaime Shaw said in a press release. “The City Council hearing will continue to be a forum for members of the public to receive project information and to voice their opinions. After public discussion, City Council will direct staff on how to continue with the project.”
There have been mixed thoughts on the project among business owners and Goleta residents, though, particularly with the bike lanes and parking.
Mike Rice, a longtime manager at Santa Cruz Market, said he was hopeful about more bike-friendly infrastructure, as he commutes by bicycle, but did express concern regarding increased congestion.
“I only ride five miles and [Old Town] is the worst part by far,” Rice said. “They have those old pictures of the diagonal parking back in the ’50s and it was fine then, but there’s so many more people now. … I’m hopeful that by doing something that changes the infrastructure to make it more bike-friendly will be a good thing, but I don’t know how it will pan out in the long term because I do drive every once in awhile, and I don’t know how much that’s going to congest it.”
While the project’s website states that one of the advantages of the option being considered is that it “limits conflict between angled parking and bikes on the north side of Hollister,” several public commenters appear to disagree.
“With parallel or angled parking, there should not be bike lanes on Hollister Avenue,” William Kelley said in a written public comment for the City Council. “Eckwell should be extended to Fairview Avenue, then the bike lanes rerouted to avoid downtown traffic.”
According to a staff report for Thursday’s special meeting, there are 1,770 parking spaces in Old Town Goleta among Hollister Avenue — which itself has 65 spaces — side streets and off-street lots.
The proposed project would increase on-street parking by about 25 spaces.
“There are two opposing sides — the bicyclists and the people who are all for extra parking,” said Ruta Safranavicius, owner of Paperback Alley. “Obviously, being a merchant, I’m on the side of more parking, so I don’t know if [making both sides happy] could be achieved.”
In another written comment ahead of Thursday’s special City Council meeting, Cars Are Basic Inc. expressed strong opposition to the project.
“Similar plans have crushed Old Town Santa Barbara, and all but eliminated most of Carpinteria’s district. Gentrification of Old Town will be the long-term outcome of this planning,” said Scott Wenz, president of Cars Are Basic. “The city has stated it wants to preserve the character of Goleta. This cannot happen if this ultimate destruction of this significant traffic corridor serving Old Town goes ahead.”
Final design of the project is scheduled to be delivered by spring 2023, with construction beginning in summer 2023 and completed in fall 2023.
The special Goleta City Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Goleta Council Chambers, 130 Cremona Drive, or by Zoom or livestream on the city’s website.