In early 2011, a grassroots group of citizens came together to address longstanding traffic safety issues in the area of the Old Mission along the road leading across Mission Creek and into Mission Canyon. Concerns about traffic hazards in this corridor have been voiced since the late 1940s, but finding broadly acceptable solutions has been difficult because of the confluence of many diverse interests, needs, and limiting conditions and the fact that the corridor straddles the boundary between City and County jurisdictions. The new effort brought together a broad-based group of stakeholders that includes representatives of the seven institutions resident in lower Mission Canyon, representatives of the three neighborhood associations impinging on the corridor, private land owners, and representatives of several organizations focused on the preservation of historic resources in the Santa Barbara community.

​Originally formed as an informal collaborative with the name “Concerned Citizens for Safe Passage”, the group recently reorganized as a formal nonprofit organization under the name “Mission Heritage Trail Association.” The primary concern of the group has been with the safety of the many pedestrians and bicyclists who use this corridor, including many children, but it extends also to the safety of motorized traffic. Recognizing that the district represents a historic cradle of our community, used extensively by community residents and visited by thousands of tourists, the group made it a goal from the outset to pursue needed traffic improvements in close union with the preservation of the area’s phenomenally rich historic resources and broader enhancements to the esthetics and accessibility of its natural resources and beauty.

Over the past three and a half years, the members of the Mission Heritage Trail Association have worked diligently to study and document existing problems, consider potential solutions, and familiarize government official and fellow citizens with the situation.  In June, 2012, the group produced a detailed report about existing conditions in the corridor. The group’s efforts stimulated a nearly unprecedented collaboration which, in turn, enabled the County to apply for and receive in March 2013 a $89,000 grant from CalTrans to help fund conceptual design studies.

​Fueled by thousands of hours of volunteer time and many individual monetary contributions, Mission Heritage Trail Association has worked closely with City and County staff to advance a conceptual design for proposed improvements. They organized two extremely well attended public workshops to solicit broad public input regarding perceived issues and potential solutions. Based on these workshops, City and County staff decided to focus a first phase project on just one element of the corridor that workshop participants considered most “doable” and most urgent: the creation of a continuous foot and bicycle path along the west side of the corridor from the Mission to Puesta del Sol (and the Museum of Natural History) and then continue on with a new pathway up to Las Encinas Road where it would connect with an existing pathway continuing up to Foothill Road. This project would include the construction of a new foot bridge across Mission Creek downstream of the historic stone bridge and slight adjustments to two small segments of an existing historic stone wall.

​To date, the proposed improvements have received generally positive comments from both the County’s Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission and the City’s Historic Landmarks Commission. In December, a joint session of the City’s and County’s Planning Commissions will review the conceptual plan, and it will be presented to the County Board of Supervisors and the City Council for approval in early 2015. County planning staff will submit the final grant report to CalTrans in February. The Mission Heritage Trail Association will submit with the report a supplemental document that will outline a broader conceptual vision for improvements along the whole corridor from the intersection of Laguna and E. Los Olivos Streets in the south (next to the Old Mission) to the intersection of Mission Canyon Road and Foothill Road in the north.


Click on the button below for more information on the County Multi-Modal Community Consensus Project and CalTrans Grant


The purpose of Mission Heritage Trail Association is to:

Improve the safety of people coming to and through Mission Heritage Trail in cars, on bicycles or by foot and ensure that traffic improvements are designed in accordance with the area’s historic, cultural, and environmental values;   
Educate our community and community leaders about the historic, cultural, and environmental resources within Mission Heritage Trail and support efforts to preserve, enhance, and interpret these resources;

Support efforts to provide enhanced opportunity for residents and visitors to have access to these resources, enjoy them, and appreciate them.

Our Mission:
​The mission of MHTA is to support endeavors that will preserve, enhance, appreciate, and celebrate the historic, cultural, and environmental resources of the area covered by Mission Heritage Trail and to advance the safety of people who travel to and through the district in cars, on bicycles or on foot. Toward this end, MTHA will convene stakeholders to provide input in the planning and design of improvement projects, work with City, County, State, and Federal agencies, communicate the richness of this national and California heritage site to residents and visitors, and assist in finding funding in support of improvement projects.


Sue Adams
Linda Alderman
Shelley Bookspan
Laura Burton Capps
Mary Louise Days
Kellam de Forest
Suzanne Elledge
Steve Forsell
Karl L. Hutterer
Michael H. Imwalle
Tom Jacobs
Heidi Jones
John D. Kay
Donald Olson
Br. Thomas Schultz o.h.c.
Fred Sweeney
Luke J. Swetland
R. Alastair Winn

Santa Barbara Conservancy, COAST, Pearl Chase Society, Upper East Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Garden Street Academy, Pearl Chase Society, Phoenix of Santa Barbara, Mission Canyon Association, Kay Family Trust,  Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Woman's Club