GOLETA. Calif. - The San Jose Creek in Goleta has gone through a $22 million improvement and is expected the handle nearly every big storm that comes through the area.
A bridge project at Hollister Ave. nearby will finish off the major flood control project possibly in the next two years.
When that is done, about 200 parcels will be taken off a "flood zone" list. That will increase property values, and decrease insurance costs, according to Interim Public Works Director, Rosemarie Gaglione.
Past flooding in the area has been destructive. Mayor Michael Bennett, a former Santa Barbara County Fire Batallion Chief says he has seen property destroyed and people in peril during creek flooding in the past.
"The flood and debris going on in Old Town was indescribable. It was something I had never seen there before and totally devastating," said Bennett. He recalled fire crews saving citizens from the flood waters and bringing them to the nearby Community Center where they were on higher ground.
The creek project will also relieve the city of on going mud and water cleanup projects during and after big storms.
"And that's a real waste of taxpayer money. It's a million plus to clean that up every time that happens. So FEMA gives you some money but that doesn't cover your pain and suffering and personal momentos that are lost. It doesn't come close to making it right. So this is great," said Gaglione.
The city also said when the project is done, more planning can take place to improve Old Town, but they can start now with some assurances that the flood threat is greatly reduced.
"That horizon for planning as you know takes a fair amount of time so
this really opens up the possibilities of what Old Town might be," said Bennett.