KEEP MODOC PRESERVE COUNTRY
The Modoc Preserve, a private…but, publicly shared open space, became legally protected from development FOREVER and IN PERPETUITY in 1999. The full intent of this Conservation Agreement managed by Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, was to protect this open space for this generation, and future generations to come.
Allowed uses in the agreement are solely limited to open space, equestrian, pedestrian, education, and water company maintenance use…
Only a few days remain to comment on the sham of an environmental review document called a MND…Mitigated Negative Declaration. It’s purpose is to avoid doing a much more rigorous EIR. Get this…County Public Works employees get to decide if an EIR needs to get done by tweaking the word SIGNIFICANT in a very subjective manner.
The County Public Works Department is soliciting comments on the adequacy and completeness of the Revised Mitigated Negative Declaration (Revised MND). The public should comment by submitting written or oral comments prior to the close of the public comment period at 5:00 PM on Friday, October 14, 2022. Please limit comments to environmental impacts such as biological (flora & fauna), parking, traffic, noise, e-bikes, etc…
Send comments to: Morgan Jones, at 123 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 before Friday October 14, 2022 5PM
We also strongly encourage everyone to attend the Board of Supervisors Meeting in person on November 1st starting at 9:00 AM. We urge their rejection of the deficient and inaccurate Revised MND. More details to follow in these petition updates and on the Modoc Preserve Blog.
Urge SB County decision makers to support CAMP’s Greenbelt Alignment which would result in no trees being removed.
The removal of these 29 heritage palm trees, along with at least 6 native oak trees (Alignment A), and 13 eucalyptus trees and their ~ 20,000 ft2 of habitat and shade canopy the MND fails to mention, even though a document obtained through the CPRA (California Public Records Act) proves that the County had this information but omitted it, will do irrevocable harm to the aesthetic quality of what is now a beloved scenic road, transforming it into just another sterile, milquetoast Orange County-like, urban street.
No reasonable person would conclude that losing ~20,000 square feet of habitat and shade canopy is not a significant loss to both humans and wildlife, especially given the state of our climate emergency.
No reasonable person would look at construction of a road entailing taking out 3,800 cubic yards of soil and replacing it with 1,152 cubic yards of fill, with 2,648 cubic yards removed entirely. Then, using heavy equipment and trucks to pave a road using 1,133 tons of asphalt and concrete plus 903 cubic yards (1,264 tons) of road base (aggregate) causing the soil in the above image, between these rows of trees to compact.
None of this is allowed in the Preserve. All of it would conflict with the natural, open space, scenic, wetlands, ecological and wildlife habitat attributes and conservation values legally established in the Modoc Preserve.
Alignment B includes two concrete retaining walls, one 1,200 feet long and up to 4 feet tall and another 700 feet long and up to two feet tall. Retaining walls are structures in the eyes of any reasonable person, and structures are not allowed in the Preserve.
Here are some points you can make in your letter:
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. Use the funds elsewhere in the County where they could actually improve bike infrastructure and safety.
More detailed points from the Revised MND:
Alignment B. This alignment has been designed to minimize encroachment into the Modoc Preserve and to be consistent with the provisions of the conservation easement held by The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. The multi-use path would also be constructed with pervious materials over a clean aggregate base. It would not conflict with preserving in perpetuity the Preserve’s natural, open space, scenic, wetlands, ecological and wildlife habitat attributes. The proposed land use (multi-use trail) would not conflict with the allowed uses under the conservation easement, and would not generate significant noise, traffic, dust, artificial lighting or crowds that could impair the attributes of the Preserve.
This paragraph is on page 4 of the Revised MND. Every one of the statements in it is false. Alignment B is NOT consistent with the Conservation Easement for these reasons:
Building the Path, whether it is made of pervious or impervious asphalt, is still a road building project. It would entail taking out 3,800 cubic yards of soil and replacing it with 1,152 cubic yards of fill, with 2,648 cubic yards removed entirely. Then, 1,133 tons of asphalt and concrete plus 903 cubic yards of road base (aggregate) would be brought in with heavy-duty trucks and equipment, causing the soil to compact. None of this is allowed in a preserve. All of it would conflict with the natural, open space, scenic, wetlands, ecological and wildlife habitat attributes.
2. Alignment B includes two retaining walls, one 1,200 feet long and up to 4 feet tall and another 700 feet long and up to two feet tall. Retaining walls are structures in the eyes of any reasonable person, and structures are not allowed in a preserve.
3. The project would generate significant noise, traffic and light that would certainly impair the attributes of the preserve, and the neighborhoods in general. Surrounding streets already experience cars that take up parking to use the Obern trail. There will be an increase of out of the area people who will park and then ride or walk or stroll on the new path. More than half of all bikes are now e-bikes, and their share is growing. Many e-bikes have very fat tires that do generate noise, and they have very bright headlights. They can also go up to 25mph – speeds comparable to a car. The noise in this area carries, we hear construction projects from all around us. This project will increase the noise from the construction and for the life of this path.
4. The Project does conflict with allowed uses which are named in the Easement – walkers and equestrians. Walkers are threatened by fast moving bikes, particularly e-bikes, whereas now, they are at ease. Equestrians would have a separate trail, but at the eastern end, it is adjacent to the bike path – close enough for horses to be spooked by fast moving bikes, strollers, etc.
5. 21 trees would be removed for Alignment B and 48 for Alignment A. Removing any trees in or near a Preserve is NOT consistent with the Conservation Easement.
6. The closing paragraph of the “Project Characteristics” chapter (p.6) talks a great deal about the beneficial effect of compost. There is compost now in the project area from years of naturally decomposing organic material, that would all be destroyed and replaced by asphalt. Let’s keep it in place!
7. A drainage swale would be moved to make room for the path – in violation of the Conservation Easement which does NOT allow for changes in topography.
8. The Project would damage the habitat of 71 bird species, butterflies including monarchs, mammals including foxes and coyotes and rare plants such as Centromadia parryi ssp. australis (1B.1) grows in the preserve, which may be affected in “Alignment B”. Cucurbita foetidissima (Buffalo gourd) also grows in the preserve, which would be destroyed from “Alignment A”. Although Buffalo gourd is not considered rare, this plant is locally rare, being the only observation of this plant in SB. This plant is also a culturally significant plant among the Chumash, and it is likely that their distribution has been largely influenced by the Chumash and other neighboring tribes. The Chumash and other Southern California tribes use these plants in the present, as the dried gourds are hugely important for making traditional rattles.