Correction In Tuesday’s column by Harry Nelson, “The Road to a New Highway Is Paved With Greed and Green,” there was an error in the sentence that read “The stoplights, or even roundabouts, on the 217 would cause 10-13 new injury accidents on the 217 every year and a new death every year.” It should have read, “… and a death every few years.” The Daily Nexus regrets this error.
The city of Goleta has plans to put stoplights on Highway 217, aka Ward Memorial Boulevard, the road that connects the east gate of the UCSB campus with Highway 101.
The three top reasons why they want stoplights: money, money and money.
Stoplights at two new intersections would connect the 217 to the roads near the Santa Barbara Airbus and the old drive-in theater. The city’s plan is to fill the vacant land down there with industrial parks and a spa/hotel. Connections with the 217 allow automobile commuters from Camarillo and Lompoc convenient access to their new jobs, and out-of-town drivers a simple route to the spa/hotel.
Part of the property tax from the new industry would go to Goleta, to spruce up Old Town Goleta. Bed tax dollars from the spa/hotel would flow entirely into the city treasury. The total money is something like $1 million a year.
The city of Goleta would end up owning the 217, giving them power to demand $20,000 or so every time UCSB builds a new dorm room. And if the city of Goleta doesn’t get a project approved for the 217 quick, $20 million may have to be handed back to the state of California, which has a $35 billion deficit.
So the city of Goleta would be a winner from 217 stoplights, who are the losers? UCSB students and staff, and the environment.
The stoplights, or even roundabouts, on the 217 would cause 10-13 new injury accidents on the 217 every year and a new death every year. Most of the new injuries and deaths would be among travelers to UCSB.
The city’s new industrial parks sit smack in the old Goleta Slough. The Goleta Slough today is the patch of water you see if you look from Mesa Road toward the airport. Up until about 140 years ago, the Goleta Slough was far larger, and stretched from Francisco Torres all the way to the Sizzler on Hollister. Floods from El Ni–o and the Marine Corps’ bulldozers filled it in.
Although the city’s new industrial parks sit on dry land today, during rainy years they are submerged, which is not surprising, because that land used to be submerged under the Goleta Slough. Every kind of pollutant, from solvents seeping out of tanks, to barrels of solvent washed out by floods, ends up right in our ocean.
I’ve worked for about three years now trying to find a workable compromise. A little over a year ago, after six marathon days of study and negotiation, we all agreed on a compromise. Last summer, Goleta did an about-face and rejected the compromise, which they had earlier endorsed.
Now the city of Goleta is moving forward with their plans for connections to the 217 and the development of Old Town Goleta, including the old Slough by the drive-in.
Of all those plans, there are some good parts. Fixing up the sidewalks near the Natural Caf