SB Independent: Lower Speeds, Fewer Accidents Expected by Narrowing Hollister Avenue

Few voices were heard opposing the City of Goleta’s new street-striping plan for Hollister Avenue in Old Town at a meeting held on Thursday at the Goleta Community Center. Several who expressed relief that something was finally being done made the only statements that were applauded by the roughly three dozen people there that evening.

And for good reason. Not only had the need for changes along Hollister been jawed over for 30 years, but the accident rate was high — four times the state average for collisions and three times the average for collisions resulting in injuries, said Derek Rapp of Stantec Consulting, which is the contractor for the project.

At a cost of about $1.3 million, striping the road will cost far less than the full Complete Streets plan the striping is based on. That plan, which has yet to be funded, will improve the hardscape — like sidewalks, curbs, and bus stops — and add trees and other plantings. The striping project is temporary and could be thought of as a try-out for reducing the four lanes down to two, adding bicycle lanes and a buffer, and introducing back-in parking on the north side of the street.

Rapp said that when lanes were reduced, speeds tended to go down by about 5mph and studies showed that collisions also went down 5-45 percent. Also, with a single lane, when pedestrians cross the street, they can be easily seen by all drivers. With two lanes, even when pedestrians are in a crosswalk, a driver in the second lane often cannot see why the car next to him has stopped.

Asked about the dangers of backing into a parking space, Rapp noted that since the lanes were only set out by paint, cars could use the 8-foot bike lane and buffer, and passing cars could also go around them through the median. The median would remain flat, without curbs, and emergency and delivery vehicles would use them to park; Rapp also said the double-yellow lines of the median markings would discourage left turns into mid-block driveways.

Some asked why didn’t the city have more enforcement of the parking laws. The city apparently has only one officer on abandoned vehicles and parking control for all of Goleta, and that’s not daily. Another suggestion — which brought a lot of laughter — was that a meter maid would more than pay for themselves if tickets were issued. A resident who lived near Armitos made a more impassioned plea for more enforcement to stop speeders at Tecolote, saying people fly through the back streets.

The city will hold a similar meeting on Thursday, October 27, at the City Council chambers, 130 Cremona Drive. It then goes to the City Council, and if approved, painting could begin in summer 2023.

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