The Goleta City Council unanimously approved a construction contract for the San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement and Fish Passage Project to alleviate the flood threat in the area’s Old Town during their June 30 meeting.
The $23 million project is projected to take four years to complete and will add a fish passage allowing steelhead trout to navigate the creek as well as increasing the capacity of the brook — running from Hollister Avenue Bridge to West Wind Theater — allowing it to withstand 100-year flood events. The council awarded the $18.6 million contract to Denver-based construction company Flatiron West.
According to Goleta Community Services Director Steve Wagner, the city began discussing restructuring the creek with the 1998 Old Town Revitalization Plans after several flooding incidents damaged the area.
“Significant damages occurred in 1995 and 1998 when the creek flooded Old Town and caused damages to homes and businesses,” Wagner said. “This plan will provide both a flood control benefit and an environmental benefit — it works both during low flows and high flows.”
Wagner said attempts to implement the project failed due to UCSB’s opposition to several portions of the revitalization plan and difficulties acquiring adequate funding and permits for construction.
The Santa Barbara County Flood Control, Goleta Valley Land Trust, Proposition 84, a California Department of Fish and Game restoration grant and Goleta’s Redevelopment Agency will help fund the project, according to Wagner.
Several residents and business owners have expressed concerns with the project’s potential impacts. Coastal Copy store owner Tom Rizk said the renovations will create noise and building access problems for an extended period of time.
“When construction comes through our area, we are going to completely lose access to doors we use to run our business,” Rizk. “We’re basically being forced out of our building after being here for 40 years. We are going to have to move if we are going to stay in business. I personally feel that project is a waste of money.”