The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) held a forum Wednesday night to talk about alternative transportation along the southern coast and an environmentally friendly approach to planning UCSB’s expansion.
This was the third and final meeting in a series organized by Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) Outreach Chair, Soumil Mehta. Titled the Sustainable Transportation Forum, it dealt with traffic problems facing southern California as a whole, and the housing and parking potential of UCSB specifically. Speakers from the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, an advocate group for alternative transportation, as well as local representatives, brought up various obstacles to creating an environmentally friendly community, and talked about possible solutions.
ESLP is a collaborative interdisciplinary effort to create a community that supports ecological, human and economic health throughout the University of California system, according to the ESLP website.
Mehta said a major problem facing UCSB is the need to create onsite, high-density housing for faculty and staff. While there are proposals to build a San Clemente Graduate Student Housing Project along Storke Road and its accompanying parking structure on Ocean Road, Mehta said the goals of the project should be to create an environment where residents are not forced to add to current traffic burdens.
“The problem is a total lack of passion and commitment [to sustainable transportation] on the campus’ part,” Mehta said. “If new housing, such as the proposed San Clemente housing development … is developed, dining areas on location would be needed to avoid the need of using single occupancy vehicles to go out into the community to eat. We need less commuter distance.”
Traffic problems are prevalent throughout coastal communities, particularly on the ever-overcrowded Highway 101, said Greg Hart, a representative of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments program, 101 In Motion.
“Traffic on the 101 has grown seven times as fast as the population,” Hart said. “In Santa Barbara and Ventura we have a problem because we only have the 101. We also have a terrific opportunity because we have almost 15,000 people coming one way at one time. This could facilitate ride share.”
Hart said Californians should look past quick fixes for the traffic problem and should concentrate on real solutions with alternative transportation options.
“We need to provide ways to move people, not just cars,” Hart said. “We need to provide the community with choices … Some people thought it would be possible to just re-stripe the freeways, but as it turns out there just isn’t physically enough space.”
Hart said other people thought about building a bypass freeway.
“But the cost is astronomical and it would take a really long time to get funding for that,” he said. “… From public workshops we’ve had, we’ve gathered 66 different ideas to address this problem. This is essentially the challenge in the year 2005.”
Logan Green, fourth year business economics major and student representative of an upcoming university committee working on a campus transportation program, said the committee will also concentrate on finding solutions to the overcrowding and traffic problems that face California and how they affect UCSB.
He said the committee would be launched next quarter.
“It’s going to be a collection of students, staff, and faculty and some preliminary work has been done,” Green said. “We collect information on different sustainability indictors, so we work with the campus as a system and how it interacts with the rest of the world.”
Green said the university would need to figure out how to best approach housing and transportation needs as it expands.
“Where do we put more housing, where do we put new academic buildings,” he said. “Those are all the issues that are going to be analyzed.”