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In bumpy decision process, new bike path and paseo route is approved in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's not often two agencies in Santa Barbara are in a dispute that lands in front of the city council, but it happened this week over a bike plan to connect the westside of the city to downtown with a new, safer route.

It's called the Westside Community Paseo.

Originally, as part of the city's master plan, it went through a review in 2015. Residents on Micheltorena Street were not happy with the impacts on parking and several other issues.

Listening sessions were held and eventually, with the input of the community members, Sola Street was chosen as the preferred route.

Because it crosses into downtown Santa Barbara, which is the historic El Pueblo Viejo district, it comes with a deeper scrutiny.

The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) did not support the design in that area and rejected the project. "We want it to still look good.  We just  want it  to be good, absolutely want it to work," said Historic Landmarks Commission Chairman Anthony Grumbine.

It was appealed Tuesday to the City Council by the Public Works Department. Grumbine was among the speakers representing the HLC.

If the project was put on hold, a funding deadline would be lost. That is a $4.4 million transportation grant the city was counting on.

The council has approved the project and urged the review boards to work closer to resolve these issues earlier in the future. Concerns were raised that the commission was not in the loop when public hearings and other sessions were held.

The process has had multiple different options and suggestions.

"We've been tasked  with creating a  low volume street on Sola street so that novice cyclists feel comfortable sharing the road with traffic," said
Transportation Manager, Derrick Bailey.

When it comes to safety, beauty and design features,

Santa Barbara City Councilmember Mike Jordan said, "certainly we can get to the safety of our children, whether they are on their bicycles or walking or of  us older people whether we are walking or on our bicycles, as part of the beauty of the city also."

Looking ahead, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Kristin Sneddon was unhappy with the process and how those involved have been handling some recent projects. "I'm not appreciating that and I think I've had enough, this redefining the role of HLC of something that is in the way." She urged better communication and cooperation.

Economy / Local Politics / Santa Barbara - South County / Traffic
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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