The Solvang City Council has scheduled a special meeting for June 18 to further discuss a grant application for a bicycle path.
Councilors will decide whether they want Alta, a planning and design firm that specializes in bicycle and pedestrian projects, to prepare a grant application for the Active Transportation Program, which provides grant funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Public Works Director Matt van der Linden said at Monday's council meeting that the application is due by July 31.
In April, the council had a goal-setting workshop and chose enhancing the quality of transportation as one of its top priorities.
That goal included expanding or improving bike lanes and installing sidewalks in areas lacking accessibility.
At a standing room-only meeting in December, councilors voted to further explore the possibility of a Sunny Fields Spur bike trail, which would extend the existing bike lane along Highway 246, across Alamo Pintado Creek and north to Sunny Fields Park.
At the time, Creekside residents expressed their opposition to the spur, while the biking community expressed its support for the idea.
On Monday, Councilman Ryan Toussaint asked whether the city would be interested in creating a more comprehensive master bicycle plan. Solvang’s current bicycle master plan is a decade old.
“If you look at Buellton’s bicycle master plan I think it’s like 90 pages or so, it’s pretty comprehensive,” said Toussaint. “I’m just curious if there’s any interest in doing something like that here.”
City Manager Brad Vidro said there’s a larger Santa Ynez Valley Bicycle Master Plan study planned for this year that Solvang will be a part of.
Van der Linden said it makes sense to have a plan that’s cohesive with the rest of the surrounding areas.
“It makes most sense to have whatever we decide to do to be fully integrated with whatever the county and SBCAG [The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments] come up with in this county-wide master plan,” van der Linden said.
Councilor Karen Waite said she thought it was a great start engaging with Alta, but said she wanted to know how much money the city could get for the project.
“The spur is the beginning and that will actually be the catalyst for making this a bike friendly town," Waite said.
“Nothing is in stone and we’ve listened to strong opinions on both sides. I really want to rely heavily on our ability to fund, because that will drive where we’re able to put these types of lanes.”
Councilor Joan Jamieson asked whether councilors were going to talk about anything other than the Sunny Fields Spur bike trail and specifically referenced the possibility of removing parking off Highway 246.
Mayor Jim Richardson said the current bicycle plan states that parking cannot be removed for the creation of a bike path.
“Unless we find additional parking,” Jamieson said, adding that she found additional parking at Solvang School.
That assertion elicited applause from the audience.
Richardson said there wasn’t anything in the plan that said the city could remove parking for bike lanes.
“The city shall only implement bikeways in locations that do not require the removal of on street parking,” Richardson read.
“But there’s another place in here that says we can find additional parking. I read that,” Jamieson countered.
Toussaint noted they were talking about a document that is 10 years old.
Richardson said it didn’t matter how old it was, it was still in effect.
“Right, but our job is to review, evaluate and edit policy,” Toussaint said.
And later, “Again we’re just identifying goals for the future.”
Richardson expressed his concerns about the concept.
“I appreciate the fact that bicycling is important, but also the viability of our city is important and you talk to the merchants about parking, they’re the ones that are going to be impacted most by the removal of parking in the city,” Richardson said. “We have to consider those guys because they do provide the revenue for the city."