Traffic on the Highway 101 might be speeding up and construction on an oil pipeline running through Goleta may be slowing down after yesterday’s Goleta City Council meeting.
Assistant City Manager Luci Romero Serlet said the council heard a presentation from city staff and members of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) about the “101 in Motion” project – a plan to decrease traffic on the 101 by creating alternative transportation options. Council members also listened to a lecture on offshore oil leases from the Santa Barbara County Energy Division. Serlet said the council also passed a resolution accepting a $90,000 grant for the Hollister Avenue Redesign Project from Caltrans and authorized funds for an upcoming Fourth of July event in Girsh Park.
The meeting occurred in two parts, the first at 1:30 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m. Serlet said the presentation on the “101 in Motion” project was significant even though the council did not make any decisions about the information it received.
“Primarily it’s an opportunity for [the council] to hear where the project is,” Serlet said. “They’re basically going to get a progress report on the remaining alternatives that are being contemplated for 101 improvements.”
Goleta Mayor Jean Blois said the council is currently considering four plans to reduce traffic on the 101, although council members would like to see the plans combined into one package by this summer. She said options include creating a $103 million commuter train through the city and installing meters at freeway on-ramps.
Blois said the project will remain in the planning stages while its planners reconcile their proposal with the council’s input and consider how the ideas will be funded.
“The money thing is a big issue,” Blois said. “It will probably come from the general fund or transportation. We had different ideas for them to mull over, like widening the 101 to six lanes from Fairview to Glenn Annie.”
Blois said she thought the meeting’s most noteworthy event was a presentation by the county’s Energy Division about the upcoming federal Mineral Management Services (MMS) decision on whether or not states should control oil leases within three miles of their shorelines.
“[The county] had this whole presentation about federal offshore oil leases and whether the state has something to say about what happens three miles off its shores,” Blois said. “We’re hoping that we do have a say.”
Blois said MMS’ decision could have implications for Goleta residents because Venoco, Inc. wants to extend its offshore lease so it can run oil through a lateral pipeline in Goleta to its onshore processing facility in Ellwood. She said the decision MMS makes and the ongoing public and political discussion of offshore oil leases could help the city council veto the expansion plan. Blois said the council opposes the expansion because something could go wrong and cause environmental harm to the area.
“We’re very leery about it because it’s an older plant and so far so good, but there’s always the possibility of accidents,” Blois said. “They would have to get a permit from the city and the city council would probably say no.”
Serlet said the city council agreed to everything on the meeting’s consent calendar, including a plan to allocate $90,000 from Caltrans to the Hollister Avenue Redesign Project.
“It is a project to look at the Hollister corridor and to look for pedestrian and circulation improvements,” Serlet said. “They haven’t been entirely decided yet. There’s a public process to decide that.”
The council also unanimously approved up to $2,500 to help pay for Sheriff’s deputies at the Rotary Club of Goleta’s annual Fourth of July event in Girsh Park.