Storm Shuts Coast Village Road — 3rd Time in 4 Months; Now Open

This is how Coast Village Road looked Jan. 9.
— Photo by Mike Eliason

Coast Village Road is closed again, apparently through March 22. However, it reopened March 23.

That Santa Barbara commercial corridor, which juts into unincorporated Montecito, was closed during the December Thomas fire and January mudslide. After extensive cleanup, the road was reopened Jan. 23 only to face this week’s threat of the biggest storm of the season.  

A recording on the Monecito Inn’s telephone tells employees to stay home in the wake of mandatory evacuation order by the county. Twenty-one people died and two are missing in the mudslide and debris flow. 

Taking no chances this time, thousands of residents have evacuated. For some, this is the fifth time they have had to pack up and leave their homes to find shelter in a hotel or with family or friends. 

Meanwhile, Caltrans spokesman said Jim Shivers said that despite heavy rain March 21, Highway 101 remained open and Amtrak trains continue to run. 

Highway 101, which parallels Coast Village Road, was covered in mud and debris and closed for 12 days as search-and-rescue operations were under way. So far this month, no storm-related casualties have been reported. 

The mudslide sent boulders the size of cars and logs as big as telephone poles roaring from the fire-scarred area down the slope to the ocean while sweeping away everything in its path. 

Coast Village Road was flooded because it intersects Olive Mill Road on its east end. Olive Mill leads down to the ocean at the site of the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and Coral Casino, which have been closed since the mudslide. 

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 south side store fronts.

Also closed because it’s in the evacuation zone, is the upper village shopping area, which includes a post office, public library, Tecolote book shop, a grocery store, several restaurants, banks and other businesses.

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