Please print out this “DON’T PAVE THE MODOC PRESERVE” window sticker and display along with your favorite causes…
Bucolic. A word that perfectly describes the charm of the iconic views of Canary Island Date palms as you drive along Las Palmas Drive, Marina Drive, and Modoc Road sections of unincorporated Santa Barbara County.
These now iconic trees were planted during the era of Thomas Hope and civic leader Pearl Chase, the “First Lady of Santa Barbara”. These Canary Island Date palms along the Modoc Road corridor are survivors of the 1990 Painted Cave Fire. Unbelievably, 29 of them are now threatened by the County’s Alignment A proposal for a redundant bike path, where wide and safe Class II bike lanes already exist.
The grassroots efforts led by CAMP – Community Association for the Modoc Preserve, along with over 4050 petition supporters to SAVE THE MODOC ROAD TREES (SMRT), oppose this unnecessary urbanization plan to pave a 14’ wide road, with concrete retaining walls, through part of a protected nature preserve (Modoc Preserve). We feel this project is a blatant waste of taxpayer money.
Our group is bi-partisan…the majority of us could be called moderates…the most area under the bell curve…center…left of center…right of center…but, certainly none of us, are at either end of the extremes…IOW, we’re not a bunch of left wing “tree huggers” trying to stop progress…as we’ve learned some in Public Works have categorized us…in fact, most all of us are focused on fiscal responsibility…and, environmental stewardship…conservation.
The Modoc Preserve became protected from development “forever” and “in perpetuity” in 1999 with a Deed Of Conservation Easement, signed between La Cumbre Mutual Water Company and the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. This is publicly shared private land.
Removal of these 29 heritage palm trees, along with at least 6 native oak trees (Alignment A), will do irrevocable harm to the aesthetic quality of what is now a beloved scenic road, transforming it into just another sterile, milquetoast urban street in Orange County. The $8MM required for the project, including the CalTrans ATP (Alternative Transportation Plan) grant of $5.3MM, would be money better spent maintaining existing road infrastructure that is failing.
The County’s bike path plan Alignment B, would violate a number of environmental provisions and conservation values in the Conservation Easement, notably prohibition of roads or structures, degradation of soil, alteration of topography, alteration of water course or drainage…etc…in fact, the only allowed uses in the Modoc Preserve are open space, equestrian, pedestrian, and education…plus, water company maintenance.
The County put the cart before the horse developing the Multi-Use bike path plan first, without understanding the Modoc Preserve legal agreement and challenge of procuring an easement..
CAMP’s recommendation is that since Alignment B is not viable and Alignment A is not tenable, the County should finish putting the whole project on Modoc Road, north of this valuable tree belt…as they have already done for the western half…using the existing asphalt infrastructure in County Right of Way (ROW). CAMP is calling this the “Greenbelt Alignment“.
Please read our previous petition update with detailed comments that you can use in your letters to the decision makers listed below before October 14, 2022 5PM…
Here are a few more boiled down comments that you can use…
1. As presently envisioned, the project entails:
a. Paving over a recognized nature preserve.
b. Destroying numerous trees some of which are over a 100 years old.
c. Doing extensive damage to the habitat of numerous plants and animals.
2. Because of the facts stated above, the county’s attempt to circumvent an environmental review is legally questionable and exposes the county to expensive legal challenges.
3. The designation of the project as a multi use path is reckless and will endanger pedestrians, wheelchair users & pets. A growing percentage of bicycle traffic consists of e-bikes. The notion of heavy e-bikes barreling at 30mph down a path used by the disabled resembles a scene out of a horror movie.
4. The project is a total waste of taxpayers money. This monstrosity would not have come about were it not for a grant. The notion that a grant is not taxpayer’s money is absurd. Worse, the grant application is riddled with inaccuracies and exaggeration. I fear that the award of the grant itself can (and probably will) be challenged in court.
We strongly urge the county to drop the whole project.
Your MND comments should be sent to:
Morgan Jones (SB County Public Works)
Your comments can also be sent to the following Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors who will be having a meeting to decide the fate of these trees on November 1, 2022…
Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors:
1.) Das Williams
3.) Joan Hartmann
5.) Steve Lavagnino
2nd District Candidate Laura Capps
Our attorneys are wrapping up a letter that will outline the discrepancies and deficiencies that we found in the revised MND…this required a significant amount of billable hours that we are paying for…if you would like to help us offset these legal bills to protect the Modoc Road trees…
PLEASE DONATE TO OUR MODOC PRESERVE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND…