Serenaded by violins and guitars and stirred by Master of Ceremonies Hannah- Beth Jackson, a jubilant crowd at the Santa Barbara Depot celebrated COAST’s 5th Annual Train Party. Representatives of all South Coast governments attended, including County Supervisor Salud Carbajal; Santa Barbara council members Roger Horton, Grant House, Helene Schneider and Das Williams; Goleta council members Michael Bennett and Ed Easton; and Carpinteria councilwoman Kathleen Reddington.
The 2009 recipient of the Barry Siegel Award, COAST’s most important recognition, was former County Supervisor Naomi Schwartz. Ms. Schwartz was Chair of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) in 1993 when Caltrans presented plans to widen Highway 101 south of Milpas Street with a standard design that would have transformed this cherished, scenic corridor into a barren, concrete channel. Ms. Schwartz convinced her reluctant colleagues at SBCAG to conduct an in-depth traffic analysis of the corridor and to establish an advisory “Highway 101 Task Force”.
From this process emerged a series of “Operational Improvements” (some completed, some currently under construction) to add a third freeway lane at the most congested locations and to enhance local circulation (including alternative modes of transportation) as a way to reduce trips on the mainline. At Naomi’s encouragement, a whole new set of design guidelines were established by the County and the City to guide the aesthetics of all future highway improvements,
During her three terms on the County Board of Supervisors, Naomi Schwartz was a knowledgeable and determined advocate for sustainable transportation. Barry Siegel was her top public advisor on this subject. Naomi changed the way projects were planned and funded by dramatically improving public participation in processes previously controlled by Public Works directors.
COAST also honored Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and Council Member Roger Horton, whose terms will end this year, for their dedication to bring commuter rail from Oxnard to Goleta. Tracey Willfong Singh was also recognized for her outstanding leadership in Safe Routes to School activities.
The Barry Siegel Award, named after one of COAST’s founders, is presented annually to individuals for their outstanding contributions to alternative transportation. A video of the party will soon be available on Public Access TV and on the COAST website.