Friday, February 28, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 26th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 39

Santa Ynez Valley bike plan clears another hurdle

By William D'Urso

The earliest stages of a bike plan that would likely link all the municipalities of the Santa Ynez Valley came a step a closer to approval at the last Santa Barbara County Association of Governments meeting.

The board voted unanimously to pass the Santa Ynez Valley Bicycle Master plan forward to an eventual hearing in front of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. The plan was adopted by the cities of Solvang and Buellton in October. Michael Becker, the association’s planning director, presented the plan at the Nov. 21 meeting, calling it “an aspirational” plan. 

Everything included in the bike plan would never get done, Becker said, so he reached out to the community through a series of meetings to gauge who wanted what projects. The last meeting was in March, he said, where attendees helped identify which of the more expensive projects should be prioritized. Three made the cut, each carrying a hefty price tag. The Sunny Fields Spur bike path connecting an existing path to Sunny Fields Park would cost $2 million. Another component of the plan, called the multimodal trail from Los Olivos to Los Alamos, is estimated to cost $10 million. A third anticipated project is the Santa Ynez River Trail, which doesn’t yet have a cost estimate.

Some detractors of the master plan have said these added trails could disrupt wildlife and further encourage homeless encroachment into valley communities. County and city officials of involved municipalities stress that the plan is still in process and that a formalized proposal is crucial for earning state grants that could carry most of the costs for certain projects in the plan. There are no obligations to implement or fund any projects.

“Lots of these projects, particularly the big ones, won’t be funded locally. They’ll be funded through state grant programs,” Becker said. “If there’s not a plan, it’s very difficult to go out and seek state funding.”

Becker said outreach has been a priority. He said there have been paid advertisements in local papers announcing meetings, regular media coverage, meeting announcement flyers in libraries and city halls, and email blasts from 3rd District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann.

“People used to be able to get around when there was less congestion,” Hartmann said. “Now people have to get in a car almost just to cross [Highway] 246.”

Becker said a big priority for the plan is to provide safe paths for kids to ride bikes and to get them educated about proper bike safety.

“Lots of times the complaint we hear is that bikers don’t know how to ride, blowing through stop signs and red lights,” Becker said. “Well, if we have education in schools maybe that’s a step toward solving that.”

Hartmann said bike education in schools is a big priority that she and the local municipalities are seeking to secure funding to implement.

“I’m going to be eager to support the overall concept. I think there’s a lot of effort for many, many decades that has gone into this,” Hartmann said.

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