On Monday, I asked the County Public Works Department to pull back the traffic-calming project proposed for the 6600 block of Isla Vista. The proposal was initiated by my office with the idea to slow down cars and make the streets are safer for pedestrians and bicycles.
With the exception of Del Playa Drive, this proposal would have added very wide speed bumps, traffic “deflectors” and, on the wider streets, traffic islands. Obviously, the traffic islands received the most attention. Because of Del Playa’s long stretch of driveways, Public Works just recommended using the wider speed bumps.
There has been quite a bit of discussion about traffic calming in Isla Vista. Traffic calming was a big part of the I.V. Master Plan community workshops last spring and was briefly discussed at a community meeting held on Sept. 25 where Rob Eaton, from the Public Works Department, outlined the proposal for the Project Area Committee and the public during an administrative discussion. The plans were also sent to the fire department and local bus company to make sure they approved of the proposal.
However, because many people felt that the project goals were not clear and that this effort needed to be a part of a larger community based plan, this part of our street safety program will be reconsidered at a later time.
We have accomplished several traffic related safety measures in Isla Vista and will continue to move forward on several other ongoing projects. For example, as a compliment to the speed bump, deflector and island project, Public Works has been conducting a survey of the old red curbs around town that are no longer useful. At this point, they estimate as many as 40-50 additional spaces can be made available by removing red curbs at old bus stops and other locations.
We are also moving forward with the Isla Vista sidewalk infill project. To date, we have invested over $700,000 during the last three years and have constructed over a mile of new sidewalks in Isla Vista since the mid-1990s.
My office is also coordinating with Edison International on a streetlight upgrade project. Over 50 additional streetlights have been added over the last few years, and scores of existing lights have been upgraded with brighter light bulbs.
Practically every street in Isla Vista has either been resurfaced or has the money designated for the work. That means in just three years, we have taken care of the local maintenance backlog and are now able to focus on safety related issues, like adding sidewalks and repairing the beach access ways located at Camino Del Sur and Camino Pescadero.
There is no one single way to make streets safer or get cars to drive slower. It needs to be a blended approach of physical changes, enforcement and a clear understanding that people and bicycles share the road with cars.
I hope that the recent discussion about traffic calming and general improvements to Isla Vista encourages the community to participate in the I.V. Master Planning effort. The next meetings are scheduled for this Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30-9:00 p.m. in Francisco Torres’ Linda Vista Room. This week’s topic is traffic and circulation. I hope you can attend!
Gail Marshall is the 3rd District Supervisor for Santa Barbara County.