On May 19th, Ellen Bildsten of Bildsten Architecture and Planning moderated a workshop on Evolving Transportation Trends in Vibrant Communities at the all-day conference hosted by the Coastal Housing Coalition. Formed in 2005 in response to the region’s critical housing shortage, the CHC works to promote affordable housing for the local workforce by communicating with communities and their decision-makers, shaping housing policy and endorsing well-designed and appropriate residential projects. Ellen serves on the CHC Board of Directors, as well as on the planning committee for the annual housing conference. See a full video of the workshop here.
This year, the Transportation workshop focused on alternatives to traditional car usage with an eye toward improved quality of life. In local cities, predominant car use is shifting to walking, biking, vehicle sharing and public transit. This is possible due to denser multifamily housing and mixed-use neighborhoods, as well as our access to real-time information through mobile technology. The workshop examined these trends and discussed alternative transportation’s evolutionary process. Topics included the 2016 Santa Barbara Bicycle Master Plan, impacts of car sharing now available through Zipcar, and innovative car parking scenarios in higher-density housing areas and the Central Business District. Conference attendees learned about an upcoming real-time app for riders to track actual MTD bus arrivals, as well as more flexible route service in neighborhoods all around town. In addition, they explored how these evolving trends reduce car use and how they may affect future local zoning policies by easing on-site car parking requirements as we provide additional workforce housing in our region.
The Transportation workshop featured a panel of three speakers, whose expertise illustrated these alternatives. Peter Brown is an urban planner with the City of Santa Barbara and a faculty member in the Environmental Science Program at the University of San Francisco. With his Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Latin American Geography from UCLA and over 17 years of experience in city planning, teaching, research, and general plan implementation, Peter provided insight on topics such as land use planning, public transit system enhancements, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and affordable housing development. Edward France is a graduate of UCSB, and is the Executive Director of the SB Bicycle Coalition. He presented the organization’s plan to increase connectivity for bikers with the East-West Cross Town bikeway at Highway 101 and Micheltorena, the Alisos Bicycle Boulevard neighborhood route, and completion of the Coastal Route bikeway, which connects the cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria. Ed previously worked for the City of Santa Barbara as the Recycling Coordinator and briefly as administrative assistant to the Sustainable Santa Barbara program. Ed is currently serving his second 4 year term as Transportation and Circulation Committee of the City of Santa Barbara, and is an advisor to the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST). George Amoon is Manager of Planning at the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD). A graduate of UCSB and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, George spent five years at the City of Goleta Community Services Department and 10 years at Santa Barbara County in the Long Range Planning Division, serving as manager of the Transportation Planning and Grants Programs. After serving at the City of Goleta, George founded a consulting firm, GKA Consulting, providing transportation planning and grant writing services to local clients.
By providing information to the public about the transportation trends that are developing in Santa Barbara, Ellen and the panelists are working toward cultivating a community that is both accessible and affordable for the area’s established and emerging workforce. With more opportunities for ride-sharing, biking and public transportation, and loosened parking requirements, Ellen and the Coastal Housing Coalition are creating opportunities to design better buildings that facilitate healthier lifestyles. For more information on Bildsten Architecture and Planning's advocacy efforts, click here. To learn more about Evolving Transportation Trends in Vibrant Communities, see the full video of the workshop.