Goleta’s council chambers filled with cheers Tuesday evening after the Goleta City Council approved the San Jose Creek Multipurpose Path project.
During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, the multipurpose path project was met with a large amount of support from community members, and they celebrated after the City Council’s vote.
Councilmembers James Kyriaco and Kyle Richards recused themselves because of possible personal conflicts regarding the proximity of their homes to portions of the project, but the project was supported by the three remaining council members.
The multipurpose path is a project that has been on the city’s docket even before Goleta was incorporated 20 years ago.
The bike and pedestrian path will connect two existing path segments for a safe and continuous active transportation network spanning approximately 3 miles from Calle Real to the Atascadero Creek Bikeway, removing barriers such as Highway 101, Union Pacific Railroad bridges, Highway 217, and the San Jose Creek itself.
Tuesday’s hearing on the path was a continuation from the council’s Sept. 20 meeting, where councilmembers said they were concerned about the number of trees being removed, and asked staff to return with more information on other questions they had.
Councilmember Roger Aceves said at the time he was “beyond disturbed” that 82 trees would be removed during construction.
City staff and consultants conducted a tree survey for the northern segment and with that, and eliminating the northern connection at Calle Real, the number of trees to be removed was reduced from 82 to 77.
New trees will be planted at different locations to replace those being removed.
Staff also provided information on the project’s preliminary costs. The project is being partially funded by a nearly $18 million grant from the Active Transportation Program, and the total project cost is estimated to be over $28 million. About $4 million of the project cost is still unfunded.
“I think we can all agree that a good word to use for this project is transformative. … This project breaks down the barriers of the freeway system in our community and will enable more equitable and safer access,” Barry Remus said during public comment.
“Let’s connect our community, let’s connect our neighborhoods and create one Goleta so that all of our residents — young and old, and visitors as well — can move throughout the city and also access the beach without have to worry about those barriers.”
Community members emphasized the positive impact the new pedestrian and bike path will provide for families, local businesses — with the path bringing in more foot traffic — and more.
“This project has the power to create a more unified community, especially between these neighborhoods that are separated by the freeway,” said Luz Reyes-Martín.
The San Jose Creek Multipurpose Path project is still in the conceptual design phase and construction is expected to start in 2024.
— Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.