Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Old Town: San Jose Creek and Steelheads

parkparkpark offered the following for discussion...


I think Tom Schultz covered a really important issue in today's Santa Barbara Newsroom.

The ugly concrete channel right in front of the News-Press Goleta Printing Plant is going to be enlarged by digging out and then *pouring new concrete* over the existing aprons of the channel. Here is a cross sectional diagram of the new plan.

In the enlargement nothing will be done to improve steelheads' ability to migrate up San Jose Creek! In earlier incarnations there was going to be a small channel with a natural bottom for steelhead, but that was removed. But now the concrete bottom will be left as is all along South Kellogg, which forms an impenetrable barrier to steelhead.

The project as about to be approved is right out of 1965. 35 years of South Coast environmentalism is being ignored by this undertaking, and the steelhead will suffer.

Further, the City of Goleta has only done a Negative Declaration, not a full EIR on the project. The comment period ends tomorrow... more info is on their April 2, 2007 agenda. The comment period ends tomorrow!

Flood control in Goleta Old Town is important, but this is a retrograde and unacceptable solution. I wonder if the News-Press has ignored the issue because they benefit... the Printing Plant needs the channel enlargement to keep from flooding.

The old council was just as supportive of this travesty as the old one... something about Goleta Old Town... out of sight, out of mind.

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Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Yikes! Negative Declaration and no EIR? Wow. That's some great City planning. Sounds like they are in a hurry! Any chance University Planners are running this operation? Poor Steelhead. What's the proposed mitigation. A fish farm on Plaza de la Guerra?

Come on! We know better than this.

4/03/2007 3:24 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

I momentarily thought the STEELHEADS in the title was referring to the better name that the Santa Barbara baseball team should have. See Indy Angry Poodle for 17 March 2005, available by request. (or if Indy really is ambitious, they will put it up at their web site again).

That Goleta City project is entirely about flood control or flood diminishment. The Hollister Ave. bridge over San Jose Creek is too small, so water and sediment accumulate above it and during heavy creek flows all of that flows OVER the bridge and road, wrecking havoc in Goleta Old Town, which is largely a filled-in wetland.

The project Goleta City is doing for the San Jose Creek channel is to increase the channel capacity, by building a bigger, longer-span bridge AND by increasing the capacity of the channel shortly downstream of that bridge. That capacity is increased by making the sides of the channel vertical instead of slanted, as shown in the cross-sectional diagram.

Only a short distance downstream of Hollister Ave., though, is getting that treatment. And with this vastly increased channel capacity (so the water and suspended sediment stays in the channel instead of overtopping and visiting the lowland areas of Goleta Old Town), a minor loss of channel capacity still could be tolerated by allowing a soft, naturalistic bottom of the channel with a bit of riparian plantings. That also might have been a regulatory requirement.

Essentially, Goleta City could have implemented a broader, pro-environment and pro-Steelhead vision to treat all of the San Jose Creek channel in a naturalistic manner as one integrated project. They chose not to do that and, according to the report by Tom Shultz, they are merely offering a bit more explanation in the final report about why they are not.

After all, the Goleta City Council has its priorities, and environmental quality ain't it.

In the long-term, though, the rest of the San Jose Creek artificial channel indeed could be modified to allow endangered Steelhead Trout to swim up to better habitat upstream above the freeway, thereby helping contribute to the recovery of this fish so it does not go extinct.

This project in Goleta provides quite a contrast with how Santa Barbara City is deciding how to treat Mission Creek in downtown Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara does not so easily separate flood control goals of a project with extra environmental and fish habitat benefits, as those all tend to get melded whenever a project happens in a Steelhead-bearing creek. That is happening now for the similar-looking long concrete flood control channel for Mission Creek in downtown Santa Barbara.

See the article at EDHAT only today:

When Santa Barbara gets it done 5 years from now to allow fish passage through the Mission Creek concrete channel, that can be an example of success for Goleta to follow for that San Jose Creek concrete channel.

By then, Bennett and Onnen will no longer be on the Goleta City Council anyway....

4/03/2007 5:17 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

BTW, about the wondering by the Blogabarbara host, the NewsPress has ignored the story because, you know, they are still the NewsPress. If the story does not arrive on their fax from the Sheriff or Fire PIO, it is not a story worth covering.

4/03/2007 5:22 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

I don't suppose the hurry up was so Onnen's bus terminal doesn't get flooded again? Not that I'd wish that on anyone. Seems like we should take more care with something like this.

4/03/2007 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the "steelhead" problem is only a matter of concern for property ownerss who do not have the resources to fight the battle... just ask the people who's lives have been altered to protect the steelhead even when there are no steelhead in their area.
i am all for allowing access for the steelhead but everyone should be treated the same not special rules for a few. Who approved this?

4/03/2007 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Steelhead Chef said...

Steelhead are absolutely delicious wrapped up in foil with a pat of butter, a little Old Bay seasoning and some thinly sliced red onions! Yum!

Too bad I'll still have to go down closer to the beach to net them.

4/03/2007 11:03 PM  
Anonymous park park park said...

Thanks, Dave... and I was worried someone would recall that Steelhead Industries is down at 891 South Kellogg... they are car wreckers. Out of sight, out of mind.

Among the other very odd things about this project... the flooding right now near Onnen's place (the Airbus) has nothing to do with overflows from SJ Creek. Poor drainage around Thornwood drive is the culprit, not SJ Creek.

10:49pm... also take a look at the atrocious asthetics of the design. Massive concrete, sure to become a haven for skaters and taggers, as the current place is. Almost as attractive as the LA river east of downtown LA... well, there is a huge project to make the LA river much nicer these days.

Also... the City of Goleta is spending $20 million or so in state money to build new roads in the same part of Old Town. An asphalt/concrete jungle in a former wetland. Any business owner who has had their feet held to the fire with serious asthetic and environmental considerations has a right to complain about duplicity on the part of the City of Goleta.

4/04/2007 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW... go out and take a look at how the City of Santa Barbara reconstructed Tecolote Creek, near the intersection of Los Carneros and Hollister... natural bottom, nice sides with plantings...

Remember that the City of Golets sued to stop that?

I guess the City of Goleta really wanted pure concrete, with no chance for any wildlife, just like they are now endorsing 2 miles east at San Jose Creek.

The City Council of Goleta has really spent their credibility.

4/04/2007 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Remember that Goleta sued to stop that?"

That was the OLD, silly lame council. I think the new council came in at the tail end of this one and it's too late to change things, plus from the diagram that parkparkpark showed it doesn't look like there's enough room to do the wider, friendlier version in this case.

4/06/2007 8:58 PM  

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