Evolving Transportation Trends in Vibrant Communities

On May 19th, Ellen moderated a workshop on Evolving Transportation Trends in Vibrant Communities at the all-day conference hosted by the Coastal Housing Coalition. Formed in 2005 in response to the region’s critical housing shortage, the organization works to promote affordable housing for the local workforce by communicating with communities and their decision-makers, shaping housing policy and endorsing well-designed and appropriate residential projects. Ellen serves on the CHC Board of Directors, as well as on the planning committee for the annual housing conference. See a full video of the workshop here.

This year, the Transportation workshop focused on alternatives to traditional car usage with an eye toward improved quality of life. In local cities, predominant car use is shifting to walking, biking, vehicle sharing and public transit. This is possible due to denser multifamily housing and mixed-use neighborhoods, as well as our access to real-time information through mobile technology. The workshop examined these trends and discussed alternative transportation’s evolutionary process. Topics included the 2016 Santa Barbara Bicycle Master Plan, impacts of car sharing now available through Zipcar, and innovative car parking scenarios in higher-density housing areas and the Central Business District. Conference attendees learned about an upcoming real-time app for riders to track actual MTD bus arrivals, as well as more flexible route service in neighborhoods all around town. In addition, they explored how these evolving trends reduce car use and how they may affect future local zoning policies by easing on-site car parking requirements as we provide additional workforce housing in our region.

The Transportation workshop featured a panel of three speakers, whose expertise illustrated these alternatives. Peter Brown is an urban planner with the City of Santa Barbara and a faculty member in the Environmental Science Program at the University of San Francisco. With his Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Latin American Geography from UCLA and over 17 years of experience in city planning, teaching, research, and general plan implementation, Peter provided insight on topics such as land use planning, public transit system enhancements, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and affordable housing development.  Edward France is a graduate of UCSB, and is the Executive Director of the SB Bicycle Coalition. He presented the organization’s plan to increase connectivity for bikers with the East-West Cross Town bikeway at Highway 101 and Micheltorena, the Alisos Bicycle Boulevard neighborhood route, and completion of the Coastal Route bikeway, which connects the cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria.  Ed previously worked for the City of Santa Barbara as the Recycling Coordinator and briefly as administrative assistant to the Sustainable Santa Barbara program. Ed is currently serving his second 4 year term as Transportation and Circulation Committee of the City of Santa Barbara, and is an advisor to the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST).  George Amoon is Manager of Planning at the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD). A graduate of UCSB and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, George spent five years at the City of Goleta Community Services Department and 10 years at Santa Barbara County in the Long Range Planning Division, serving as manager of the Transportation Planning and Grants Programs. After serving at the City of Goleta, George founded a consulting firm, GKA Consulting, providing transportation planning and grant writing services to local clients.

By providing information to the public about the transportation trends that are developing in Santa Barbara, Ellen and the panelists are working toward cultivating a community that is both accessible and affordable for the area’s established and emerging workforce. With more opportunities for ride-sharing, biking and public transportation, and loosened parking requirements, Ellen and the Coastal Housing Coalition are creating opportunities to design better buildings that facilitate healthier lifestyles. (For more information on Bildsten Architecture and Planning's architecture and advocacy efforts, click here.) To learn more about Evolving Transportation Trends in Vibrant Communities, see the full video of the workshop.

Dennis Allen, Ellen Bildsten, Gregg Hart

Dennis Allen, Ellen Bildsten, Gregg Hart

Steve Fort, Barry Taugher

Steve Fort, Barry Taugher

Gelare Macon, Jon Standring

Gelare Macon, Jon Standring

Mountain Drive Cabana won the SBCA 2016 Construction Award in the New Residential category!

The project designed by architect Ellen Bildsten and built by general contractor Dylan Davidson of Creative Structural Design. Click here for the complete list of awards.  Dylan was off to his next construction adventure in Hawaii, so Ellen accepted the award and thanked the incredible clients and consultants on the project for their hard work.  They included Windward Engineering, Gilmour Land Surveying, Coastal Geology and Soil Inc. and lighting designer Ann Kale Associates Inc. - congratulations to all!

Mountain Drive Cabana - Click image for more 

Mountain Drive Cabana - Click image for more 

CHC Workshop "Solving the Missing Middle in Housing" - Friday May 13, 2016 SUMMARY

The Coastal Housing Coalition (CHC) is dedicated to finding solutions to California's South Coast housing crisis and reversing the adverse impacts that lack of workforce housing is having on our economy, environment and civic life.  The organization does this through advocacy, research and special projects; read more here.

The annual housing conference held on May 13, 2016 discussed our record-setting low vacancy rates along with continued escalating rental prices in Santa Barbara County.  The keynote speaker Dan Parolek emphasized the importance of providing more affordable community-based living as well as efforts to create higher density housing of the local workforce. Topics included the basic economics of developing rental housing and reviewing physical, financial and regulatory constraints.  Also included was a look at Santa Barbara's AUD (Average Unit-Size Density) program, reduced parking requirements and the impact of height restrictions. 

John Palminteri's report on the conference and more information can be found here.

Workshop Session - "Innovative Design of High Density Housing"

This was one of three workshops which explored various multi-family design solutions.  The panelists, all architects, represented some of the highlights of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Francisco innovative multi-family housing.

Design panelists include: 

Moderated by: