Traffic

New angle parking puzzles some Santa Barbara drivers heading to East Beach

City says it will improved safety and slow traffic

Angle parking at East Beach requires drivers to back into spaces as part of a plan to reduce accidents. (John Palminteri/KEYT.com)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The benefits of backing into the new parking at Santa Barbara's East Beach may not be immediately seen, but the city says it will make a difference and save lives.

The re-striping of the street included angled parking where parallel parking once existed until Tuesday.

"You don't run into this anyplace else, so it is a novelty," said longtime beach volleyball coach John Lee.

He said it was hard for some drivers to figure out what to do.

Some backed in perfectly. Some pulled their cars head first, which is a violation.   

And several nearly hit another car.

"I just winged it and hoped for the best," said driver Sarah Kono.  "I can parallel park, I just don't know about this angle parking." 

Lee said often people don't like change. "When something is different they are hesitant, so I am trying to give it a chance. But I have seen several near misses already."

The area has had more accidents than the city will tolerate.

Vehicles have gone out of control and hit the Clark Estate wall and one ended up in the waters of the bird refuge.

There was no indication the crashes were caused by the road, but this plan does include reducing the two lane area to one lane and slowing traffic down overall.

The process of parking will sow things down too.

Some drivers are slowing down to under 20 mph to see if a spot is open and decide how to get in position to back into the site.

Lee said, "You have to stop the traffic as you back into these parking spots and that is kind of problematic especially with the bike lane there. I foresee some difficulties."

Bike riders were going around cars. Some cars were going around the vehicle trying to reverse into a spot and also bike riders coming through the area.

Several drivers coming from east to west just turned in, head first which will be a violation. For now there is a grace period.

"If you are coming from Montecito then you front park because you don't see the signs. You have to have very well displayed signs," said Lee.

One problem with the head-in style is it requires the driver to back out when they leave. Visibility can sometimes be blocked.

One driver from back east says she has no problem with the parking plan or backing up.

Martie Levy said, "I think angled parking is much better, you know, to get out."  

The city has installed several signs about the parking rules and even a guide on how it should be done is mounted on a pole.

Jacob Yinger is a future driver and he has been watching carefully.

"It will take some adjustment but I will do it. It will get my reverse game going," said Yinger.

The overall plan creates more parking.

It has risen from 56 spaces before to 84 spaces now.  

That's 50 percent more. And it's free.

For more information about the parking plan, click here


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