November 16, 2018
To: Tess Harris, Planning & Development Department
County of Santa Barbara
RE: Partnership for Resilient Communities Debris Control & Mitigation
For more than 55 years, the Citizens Planning Association has studied land use issues in Santa Barbara County. Our organization has actively participated in crafting land use regulations and zoning ordinances to protect Santa Barbara County’s unique character. We are committed to protecting Santa Barbara’s natural areas and protecting the safety of our residents.
In January, due to an intense rain storm after the Thomas Fire, a debris flow claimed the lives of 23 of our neighbors, over 900 people were rescued in the first 12 hours after the debris flow, and there was extensive damage to private property and public infrastructure. Tragically, the conditions on the hills scarred by the Thomas Fire have not changed significantly, and there is a high probability of more intense rainstorms this coming year.
We have reviewed the application of The Partnership for Resilient Communities and wish to express our full support for the emergency permits to install up to 15 removable, pre-fabricated nets in Buena Vista, Cold Springs, Hot Springs, San Ysidro, and Romero Canyons. We understand that the nets will be installed under the supervision of a county qualified biologist, and that a biologist will also be on hand to supervise the removal and distribution of materials that may be contained in the nets following a rain event. We also understand that the nets will be installed at a minimum of 3-feet above the water surface of the low flow channel to allow for natural stream processes and wildlife use.
Our neighborhoods below the burn scar of the Thomas Fire remain at high risk for additional catastrophic debris flows for the next four to five years. We commend The Partnership for Resilient Communities for initiating this innovative plan to protect our communities, and the community members who are privately funding this effort.
We believe there is ample evidence in the public record to demonstrate that our community remains at great risk and the emergency permit is warranted. Please issue the required emergency permits as soon as possible.
Mary Ellen Brooks & Betsy Cramer,