Coast Village Road Opens after Cleanup

Looking west from Olive Mill Road, this is what Coast Village Road looked like Jan. 9.
— Photo by Mike Eliason

Santa Barbara’s Coast Village Road opened at noon Jan. 23 after being swamped by the massive Montecito mudslide earlier this month and last month because of the smoke and ash from the Thomas fire. 

While some businesses remained open after the Jan. 9 mudslide that killed as many as 23 children, men and women, it was almost impossible to access the shops because of ankle-deep mud on the roadway. 

Even though Coast Village was open to traffic for the first time in about two weeks, the 10 restaurants on and around the road remained closed because of water and utility problems. The mudslide damaged large water pipes and allowed millions of gallons of potable water to rush downhill along with the heavy rain runoff, boulders and debris on Jan. 9 

On a map, the road is finger-shaped Santa Barbara city commercial district, stretching into Montecito, which is an unincorporated county area. Last month, while the Thomas fire still burned away from populated areas, Coast Village reopened just before Christmas only to be flooded a few weeks later.  

Coast Village Road is home to popular restaurants, some small, high-end boutiques, several financial services companies, two small markets, a Vons Supermarket, two gas stations, some apartment buildings and the Montecito Inn. Some offices are situated off the road in back of the southside store fronts. 

Santa Barbara is expected to lose more sales tax revenue like what it lost in December when both Coast Village and State Street were hit with smoke and ash.  

The cleanup and eventual opening of Coast Village, which stretches from Hot Springs Road to Olive Mill Road, came just two days after Caltrans opened Highway 101 between Milpas Street in Santa Barbara and Highway 150 in Carpinteria.

Meanwhile,  Caltrans said on the afternoon of Jan. 23 that the northbound Highway 101 off-ramp at Hermosillo Road is open as of 2 pm.  Caltrans also announced the Highway 101 northbound and southbound off-ramps at Olive Mill Road, San Ysidro Road and Sheffield Drive will remain closed to allow trucks and emergency vehicles to access these areas for debris removal and for residents to return to the area.

During the wee hours of Jan. 9, Montecito residents were torn from sleep to hear the loud rush of heavy rain and the mudslide roaring by while washing away homes, cars and residents. It is estimated that 200 homes and commercial buildings were damaged or destroyed. 

The mudslide plowed down Hot Springs and Olive Mill roads, first flooding Coast Village, rushing toward the ocean on the freeway overpass and eventually covering Highway 101 below with muck and debris. The highway was cleared and opened Jan. 21. 

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