It wasn’t marketing campaigns or water projects, cannabis dispensaries or any number of other hot topics on the Solvang City Council agenda that drew residents out of the woodwork Monday night.
Instead, it was a newly painted bicycle lane and a master plan that called for a riverside pathway, safer cycling routes, perhaps even a pump track for off-street cycling play.
After more than 90 minutes of staff reporting, public comment and brief council deliberation, the city council voted 4-1 to adopt the Solvang portion of the Santa Ynez Valley Bicycle Master Plan; directed staff to forward comments on recent bike lane striping on Fjord Drive for consideration on River Trail alignment alternatives; directed staff, in partnership with Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation and County Parks, to clean up the northern portion of Alamo Pintado Creek Trail; and authorized up to $25,000 in initial contributions to related projects.
The council also directed staff to come back with a policy to notify the public in advance before public works projects take place that could impact the area, to investigate alternative options for the Fjord bike path and bring them back to the council for consideration.
The Solvang City Council on Monday night took steps toward providing for tourism marketing efforts and denied two appeals from cannabis business applicants, among a number of actions items on the agenda. They also took flack from residents miffed by the addition of demarcated bike lanes on Fjord Road and agreed to look at alternatives to that route.
Council Member Daniel Johnson dissented.
The plan calls for long-term projects like a bicycle pump track at Hans Christian Andersen Park, a new Sunny Fields spur bike path and a robust network of Class 1 bikeways. It also includes a conceptual project — the Santa Ynez River Trail would provide a bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian connection between Buellton and Solvang.
Residents of Rancho Santa Ynez Estates came out in force against the bicycle lane recently installed on Fjord Drive, citing fear for their safety, cycling’s potential impacts on wildlife, worries about a through-trail bringing homeless to the area, and increased traffic in what some residents called their “private neighborhood.”
“Putting a bike lane in a private neighborhood seems against common sense. I would think you should put it in a public area not a private neighborhood,” neighborhood resident Peter Laird said.
City Attorney Chip Wullbrandt confirmed Fjord Road is an 80-foot wide public road easement from Glen Way past the end of the pavement to the Solvang City limits. The city recently resurfaced and restriped the road, during which time it also added the bicycle lane striping for cost efficiency.
“If the city wants to continue to put bike path in our area you should get us involved,” said Bud McCoy, who like many of his neighbors, hadn’t heard of the bike path until construction workers were cordoning off Fjord Drive in preparation for road work. “We feel that you just ramrodded that down our throats.”
The master plan was developed by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments over more than a year of planning, including four meetings of the Technical Advisory Committee, meetings with schools, public health and business representatives, surveys, interviews, and a series of public workshops held in October 2018 and March 2019.
Cyclists of all ages and abilities gathered at Solvang City Hall just before noon Thursday to join the Mayor’s Bike Ride around several blocks…