For all intents and purposes, Santa Barbara County’s proposed project for the “Alignment B” Modoc Road Multi-Use Path (MUP) design proposal is NOT VIABLE…but, we’ve been saying that since we found about about this poorly planned bike superhighway project in a protected nature preserve back in June when we first heard about it…7 months ago…
We met with Meredith Hendricks, Executive Director of Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (LTSBC), yesterday. She informed us that the Modoc Preserve sub-committee of LTSB has sent Santa Barbara County Public Works a letter with design guidelines and Easement restrictions for the Modoc MUP. (see below)
Design Guidelines and Easement Restrictions for the Modoc Multi-Use Path
i. The project must be designed in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible.
2. Path surface
i. The path’s surface should be permeable and not paved.
ii. Roads are prohibited by the conservation easement, and concrete or asphalt surfaces at a 10’ width become too much like a road rather than a trail.
iii. There are examples of successful, accessible, unpaved multi-use paths. For example, the City of Carpinteria’s Carpinteria Bluffs Preserve has a decomposed granite (DG) multi-use trail that is wheelchair accessible, truly multi-use, and has stood up well over time.
So, it’s back to the drawing board for Santa Barbara County if they still want to pursue their poor environmental decision making of building the Modoc Road Multi-Use Path (MUP), or even part of it, inside the boundaries of the Modoc Preserve. They can no longer ignore and flippantly dismiss the Conservation Easement Agreement as “just words written on a piece of paper 30 years ago“…as Gregg Hart referred to it…
These guidelines and restrictions are not intended as approval of a project that conforms to them…they are solely to provide guidance on allowed and disallowed design elements.
“In order for Land Trust to approve a project, THE DESIGN MUST NOT VIOLATE THE CONSERVATION EASEMENT whether by individual design elements or by the sum of their impacts – and must provide a net benefit to the conservation values of the Modoc Preserve.”
Given the County’s propensity for using heavy equipment in the destruction construction of Phase I of the Modoc Road MUP project…which is currently experiencing some mudslide and geologic instability issues…it’s difficult to see how they would have an epiphany at this point to not use asphalt paving and concrete in their materials and methods of road building…etc…a zebra doesn’t change it’s stripes…however, if they do redesign the path project sans paving with asphalt and massive tree destruction , then it will have made our efforts to Preserve the Preserve worthwhile.
Simply extending the Obern Trail with a vehicle barrier a couple of hundred yards, on the existing asphalt infrastructure on Modoc Road outside of the tree line, and eliminating the westbound Class II bike lane with it’s cross-traffic left turn onto the 4.5 mile Obern Trail, that doesn’t have 5′ wide Class II lanes on either side of it, would solve this problem and achieve the safety goals the County set when they first applied for the $5.35MM ATP grant back in May, 2018…eliminating the destruction of the trees along this historic corridor.