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Eastside Walks

Eastside Walks is a COAST program that started in January, 2011 to improve walking conditions in the Eastside neighborhoods of Santa Barbara. With generous grants from the McCune Foundation and the Fund for Santa Barbara, the goal of Eastside Walks is to empower Eastside residents to stand up for their community to make the lasting changes to make walking safer.

The Eastside is a thriving community in Santa Barbara, located just west of Montecito, stretching through the end Milpas Street to the west, and runs north up to Cleveland Elementary School and down south to the beach. Young families, students, and retirees alike enjoy this colorful and historical part of Santa Barbara. The one thing that everyone can agree on in the Eastside:  walking conditions have been extremely dangerous!

This webpage gives a bit more background on who we are and what we do!

View Eastside Pedestrian Safety Concerns in a larger map

History of Eastside Walks

The City Council meeting on Sept. 18, 2012 was a big victory for COAST and the Eastside. The council prioritized the Eastside for immediate improvements in lighting, pedestrian crossings, and sidewalk infills. They also authorized a long term plan that is neighborhood-comprehensive to improve the traffic and pedestrian walkways. The city pledged to make immediate operational improvements, so residents would begin seeing improvements quickly. After the near-term “just-do-it” projects, the neighborhood will participate in more comprehensive planning for larger projects that will require grant funding. Essentially, this will be a two-step process.

COAST got a lot of accolades from the Mayor and various Council Members for our work in the Eastside and for engaging a population that may not otherwise be as vocal as others.

Thanks go out to our former Project Director Caitlin Carlson, for her work in the Eastside and for putting together our video that was shown at the City Council meeting.

And a huge thank you to Ana Rico, our Eastside Walks Organizer, for her tireless effort to engage Eastside residents; Dr. Cynthia White, former principal of Cleveland School who came out and spoke; the McCune Foundation and the Fund for Santa Barbara who are funding our work in the Eastside; the Milpas Community Association and the Neighborhood Advisory Council who partnered with us, Santa Barbara Mayor and former Council Member Cathy Murillo and former Council member Grant House who have championed our cause, and all of the Council Members who voted for this – unanimously!

This is the turning point where neighborhoods and people on foot and on bikes will once more get the attention they deserve!

You may learn more about Eastside Walks by watching our presentation here.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

Who works on Eastside Walks?

We meet Tuesdays at 10am at the Eastside Library, anyone is welcome to drop in and talk with us!  Our project team includes:

  • Melissa Cunningam – Melissa is COAST Executive Director, a Santa Barbara Middle School PTA member, avid cyclist, and supporter of Vision Zero and pedestrian safety.
  • Ana Rico – Ana is our Eastside Walks Program Organizer, and is responsible for all community outreach. Ana talks with the community directly. She spreads the word about upcoming meetings, makes calls, and tells as many people as she can about the project. Ana was born and raised in the Eastside of Santa Barbara, and has been a crucial asset in our project’s progress. She has three children who attend Cleveland Elementary, SB Junior High and SB High School. She has witnessed the dangers of walking in the Eastside neighborhood, which led her to get involved with this program.

It is also important to note that we are partnered with the Milpas Community Association and CAUSE, who are also working towards the same goal of making walking safer in the Eastside.

Why is Eastside Walks important?

This program is important because everyone deserves to walk safely in their neighborhood. Other neighborhoods in Santa Barbara have rallied to make improvements in their neighborhood- Cliff Drive and the Mesa, the lighting project in the Westside. The Eastside needs and deserves these improvements.

How is Eastside Walks funded?

This program has been funded by generous grants by the McCune Foundation and the Fund for Santa Barbara. We are very grateful to both of these supportive organizations for believing in change, and supporting community driven causes. For more information about how COAST was founded and how we operate, please click here for more details.

What does Eastside Walks entail? What are we doing to make the Eastside a safer place to walk?

 Eastside Walks works with local government and organizations, and the community to advocate for pedestrian improvements. The first half of the project primarily involved making contacts with members of the community and local governments. We wanted to gain a comprehensive list of the  problems, such as dark streets, dangerous crosswalks, and areas of the Eastside that are particularly dangerous for pedestrians.

From there we have put on neighborhood walks, inviting members of City government to go on walks with us and Eastside residents, where they can point out in person the particular problems they face.

In October of 2011, our project took on new urgency when 15-year-old Sergio Romero was hit and killed by a car on Milpas and Ortega, a preventable death had there been ample lighting and visibility of the crosswalk for pedestrians. COAST’s Eastside Walks teamed up with the Milpas Community Association and CAUSE to sponsor a community forum that took place on November 16th. Over 100 residents showed up to the Franklin Community Center to talk with the SBPD and the City engineers.

We have circulated petitions, met with elected officials, including the mayor, Public Works, Caltrans, maintenance, among others to see what residents and we could do to add streetlights, repaint crosswalks, install traffic signals, and do whatever else to make it safer. We have an interactive map, above, that shows a list of all of the problems we collected.

Have there been attempts in the past to make the Eastside a safer place to walk?

There has not been anything of this scale or size. In 2009 COAST and the Office of Traffic Safety conducted a hazard assessment in the Eastside area. The Milpas Community Association has also conducted neighborhood watches, petitions, and talked with elected officials. COAST has teamed up with the members of the community, the Milpas Community Association, and CAUSE to assemble a united front to tackle pedestrian safety in the Eastside.

The most important question – How can I help? 

  • If you live in the Eastside, tell us what’s going on in your neighborhood – contact Ana Rico by E-Mail or phone: (805) 331-9235.
  • Come to our weekly meetings! We meet Tuesdays at 10am at the Eastside Library meeting room, 1136 E. Montecito St.
  • Come to our neighborhood walks – check back with our website or contact Ana for the latest information.
  • Report broken signs, streetlight outages by filling out this online form or calling the City’s Streetlight hotline: (805) 564-5416 or the Traffic Signal Hotline: (805) 564-5417.