Potential Sycamore Creek Disaster?
By an edhat reader
In reviewing the FEMA flood predictive maps several months ago, it was amazing how prescient these long-standing documents were regarding the 2018 disaster in Montecito. These small watersheds have debris basins along East Mountain Drive. Unfortunately, these basins were overwhelmed by a worse-case scenario few people could imagine.
It can be unsettling to realize how vulnerable a community can be situated downstream from a presumably benign natural creek. Unfortunately immediately west of the devastating effects of the Tomas Fire Burn Zone lays the Sycamore Creek watershed, an area encompassing foothill range extending from Westmont College to Gibralter Rd, funneling down to the roundabout at A.P.S. and Montecito St. where the new bridge is being constructed. At this convergence of city streets meeting the fast traveling creek the flood water hits the flat land, the primordial alluvial plain of Santa Barbara's east side community.
Any citizen residing in the lower east side would presume that Sycamore Creek would have a nicely maintained debris basin to intercept this kind of mudslide fire aftermath. If automobile-sized boulders could smash through the estates of Montecito, could the 100-year-old bungalows of Soledad St. fair any better? No...
A quarter of Santa Barbara central eastside flatland grid, Salinas St., Canada St, Soledad St., Voluntario St., Alisos St. have no debris basin upstream. Just like the residents of live Mill Rd., this working-class area has ten of thousands of Santa Barbara's citizens living without a clue of the potential harm.
Let us not repeat 2018 again.