Opponents and supporters comment at hearing
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the mitigated negative declaration of the Modoc Multi-Use Path.
The board directed staff to go with Alignment B.
The vote Tuesday came during a hearing in which 53 public commenters expressed opposition to, or support of, Alignment B. Some of those attending wore T-shirts promoting the preservation of popular trees — a number of which would be removed for the multi-use path.
Supervisor Gregg Hart made the motion to adopt the MND with the caveat that Alignment A “come back to the board if that is the only viable option in the future, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Supervisor Bob Nelson seconded the motion.
The board’s vote Tuesday followed months of debates, which started in July two months after the initial MND was released by the county. After receiving feedback from the community, the county revised the MND and released the revised version on Sept. 13.
During Tuesday’s public comments, the debate focused on two areas. First, people were concerned with the fate of the trees which would be cut down to move forward with Alignment B. The second point of contention is the Modoc Preserve, which some of the trees are encompassed in.
“I represent over 5,200 petition signers opposed to the project and (who) want to save trees,” said Warren Thomas, co-founder of the Community Association for the Modoc Preserve, addressing the board.
Another commentator at the hearing agreed. “I stand in opposition to the proposal before you … Direct the staff to work with CAMP for an alternative that is agreeable to everyone … My main point is that this is a nature preserve, and the operative word is preserve … I urge you to vote unanimously against this.”
But another commentator told the board, “I support the adoption of MND and moving forward with Alignment B. I would like to congratulate CAMP for putting pressure on the county.”
“I support option B as well, (as) an avid cyclist, supporting connecting networks and keeping my kids safe,” said another commenter.
According to Chris Sneddon, deputy director of transportation for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department, once the MND is approved, this allows the county to submit the environmental document to the state for approval of the detailed design phase.
In that phase, the county will work with the Santa Barbara Land Trust, La Cumbre Mutual Water Co. and stakeholders to develop final plans.
“Stakeholder collaboration is something we want to continue throughout this entire process,” said Mr. Sneddon.
Mr. Sneddon also indicated that some stakeholder collaboration was done prior to the release of the initial MND in May.