What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

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By an edhat reader

I recently heard the Santa Barbara City Council voted to hire an "economic development consultant," and to form a committee overseeing the consultant, to review suggestions for revitalizing downtown State Street.

There are so many questions but I'm curious what edhatters think. What is this consultant supposed to do and how are they expected to "revitalize" downtown? Also, what's the point of having a consultant if the committee is overseeing and reviewing suggestions. Seems like this could be an internal process or hire some local students to compile data.

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Bug Girl Aug 20, 2018 03:01 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I think a large part of the issue is that for far too long the downtown area has been catered to tourists. After being a tourist in other towns, I found the most enjoyable places to visit are those where their downtowns are filled with restaurants, shops, bars, hangouts, and activities that appeal to the RESIDENTS of the town. If I go in a downtown that reflects the people and culture of the town, I feel like I'm momentarily a part of it, and pick up on the 'vibe' there, and want to participate. Closing off the street to traffic could be part of it, which would encourage buskers/musicians, as well as allowing for more kiosk type vendors. Locally owned unique shops with encouraging pedestrian traffic and events that encourage people to come downtown would all help. Thinking about SLO's downtown farmers markets (which allow for more cooking-on-site like BBQ, compared to ours) or Pearl Street in Boulder, or heck, even Ventura. I'll go to downtown Ventura over downtown SB, anyday.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 20, 2018 10:40 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Santa Barbara is truly a tale of two cities. The city that we want to be and the one we actually are. State St represents who we are, not who we want to be. Its bad because we prioritized the wrong things and we elected and elevated the wrong people. Its a reflection of our town, and its pretty accurate. Part of the solution is to reduce the city’s workforce, taxes and fees and to mitigate the bureaucratic bottlenecks that are a result of years of nepotism and favoritism. We dont need a consultant to tell us that things are bad anymore than we need a meteorologist to tell us it averages 80 degrees in August. We have prioritized the needs of the wrong people for so long, that we have created a rock solid bureaucracy that lives to serve itself, not the needs of the residents or the community. This town bet all of its capital on the tourist and student trade to meet its budget needs. In the end, we have loads of visitors and are known worldwide, but most people who come here dont spend very much as they have to spend $300 to sleep at a mediocre motel. Unless they’re from Nowhereland, they have the exact same stores with the exact same things in their hometown. So what are we giving them? People want art, food, creativity and activities. They dont need or want another 99c store or another $18 kale veggie salad smoothie bowl. They want simple, creative, fun things. State St offers none of those. The offices are filled with money managers, real estate purveyors, accountants and lawyers. These are services that are reliant on other people’s creations for their success. They are services for a few that benefit the few. Hence the low number of middle class jobs… We should close a portion of State St. Reduce half the city’s staff and elect an experienced mayor who actually understands how to read a balance sheet and foster small business. Until then, we will see more homeless, more complaints from locals and more shuttering. Its not Amazon, its city hall.

Factotum Aug 20, 2018 11:03 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

City employee unions need to make the connection - it takes a healthy thriving city economic base to support their own salary and benefit demands. This does not come from cramming in more housing, traffic and degraded retail and tourism environment. They have been working against their own self-interesets now for nearly two decades, and it has finally caught up with them. Yet they continued to push candidates who offered only more of the same and trounced those who were brave enough to raise the obvious alarms. The city powers that be now claim the recent city retail sales tax increase, they got voter to approve using emotional stealth, saved them - they actually think they are now rolling in money with an alleged $20 million dollars more a year to put a bandaid on their self-serving pension deficits. While the core of this city and its economic health continues to erode and more and more demands get shifted to local tax payers. Voters, you are enabling this scenario.

Eggs Ackley Aug 20, 2018 07:43 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

As has been stated previously, property owners are thriving on a steady diet of carrots. Few to no sticks are available. Would someone with free time care to research and compile a list of property ownership on the State street corridor. Tax assessors office and parcel maps is where I'd start. Some serious digging may be required to determine actual person(s) affiliated. Then using collective institutional memory, determine and track leases and vacancies over time. Using this information the community can apply the pressure that might change the situation. Up front appeals, letter wring campaigns, boycotting of businesses owned by these corporations, LLC's, and individuals. Any other suggestions? Where are the high and low profile investors and their partners on this? Folks like Bill Levy, SIMA-JimKnell, big real estate and leasing companies? Cmon guys, time to step up and show they truly support the community and its needs, at least weigh in and let the community know your thoughts . Where is the Downtown Organization on all this? Chamber of Commerce?

Factotum Aug 20, 2018 10:55 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Where is former mayor candidate Angel Martinez, former Deckers CEO, who promised he would stick around and "kick butt" in order to bring vitality back to our city. Offer him the opportunity to bring about State Street revitalization. Best way I can think of to earn his political chops in order to run again for higher office, and provide a true public service.

Factotum Aug 18, 2018 09:57 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

A consultant allows a city council to make "politically incorrect" decisions, without paying a political price. Following the advice of the consultant sanitizes what city councils should have been doing all along: clean the bums, their carts, their packs and their signs off State Street and wherever else they show up. Give us back our city, our freeway off ramps, our intersections, our libraries, our downtown, our waterfront, and our parks.

Deeker Aug 18, 2018 08:56 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

The city loses sales tax revenue on empty spaces on State Street, not to mention the negative image that all the vacancies downtown give to out of town visitors and locals. The city should charge a fee to landlords that reach a certain percentage of vacancies in the downtown area to compensate for this loss of sales tax revenue. Perhaps that will drive competitive rent prices and improve the image of downtown Santa Barbara. It just seems that if rents were reasonable, businesses would fill the vacancies.

cherplan Aug 18, 2018 02:44 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

The State St. problem is one that is very difficult to resolve and sarcasm and criticizing our elected officials doesn't help. You elected them and they are trying their very best to resolve the problem, especially gathering ideas from the public. That is the role of a leader, i.e., one who includes all and then makes the final decision. One idea I have is that we should not have chains like Laguna Beach. As one person pointed out no one is going to travel to SB to shop at a Gap. Another idea I have which was also voiced by a citizen is to change land uses to allow for residential above commercial, like in our grandparents day when they lived above the store. This is the future and we have to be ready to make changes. The Economic Development specialist will try to corral all these various interests and ideas and coordinate them. Our staff is already overburdened so hiring someone to help resolve this difficult issue is essential. I like the idea of providing a day shelter for the homeless as many are veterans who served this country and many are mentally ill. Our society should be ashamed of the way we treat them but we are living with decisions made in the Reagan Administration..

a-1537875053 Aug 18, 2018 03:19 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Cherplan, You do not need to change land use zoning laws to allow residential above retail stores and offices. It has been allowed in SB for many many decades. Apparently no one wants to do it though, probably due to the requirement to provide parking. And as far as our staff being overburdened - really? SB has more than twice as many planners per capita than any other city or county in the state (the data is available on CA web sites if you do the digging).

Lucky 777 Aug 18, 2018 12:27 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Anyone else remember how in the early 1980's the Baghwan Sri Rajneesh buses came to town and convinced a LOT of the local bums to take their ride to the Oregon commune? Lower State Street was effectively cleaned up, until the ones who discovered they were supposed to WORK up there came drifting back. It worked for a while. I say take the budget for the consultants and give the rifraf Greyhound tickets to somewhere else. Hell, a one-way to Hawaii for all of them would probably equal the money wasted on an opinion monger.

Big mack Aug 18, 2018 11:07 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I paid $3,950 per month for small storefront in the 800 blk. of State Street . My profit from a clothing store i had made no more then a $2,300 net profit each month . It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a consultant to figure out that the rent way too high to make a living there . One clown in the Council said that the storefronts are empty due to the homeless . Lower my rent to $500 and i won't care how many homeless are on State Street . The darn rents are ridiculously high .

Resident Aug 18, 2018 10:48 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I find it too typical here that the "solution," after years of talking about it, is to form a committee and hire a consultant. Why should we need to hire a consultant when we pay huge salaries to executive staff members to run the city. Shouldn't it have been their job to deal with this long before things reached the point that we are now faced with? In 2017 we paid the city administrator $372,675; the community development director $275,679 and the chief building official $201,231 (source: Transparent California. BTW that site is an eye-opener as to how many PD, FD and city staffers earn over $200k per year). So, for a combined salary of close to a $ million per year, along with their highly compensated staffs (almost 2,000 staffers in SB), all we get is a recommendation to hire someone else to do their job? And to all those that were at the meeting congratulating the city council and the city staff for "taking the lead" to solve this challenge, all I see is the council and staff hurrying to try to get in front of the many private organizations' efforts in attempt to make it look like they are leading.

PitMix Aug 20, 2018 08:13 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Shhh, please don't publicize the City salaries and ruin a good thing for the people that have those jobs. Remember back in the old days when City salaries were low and so they gave them good benefits to offset that? As time passed, the public unions convinced the City to keep the bennies and pay above market salaries. Good work if you can get it.

RHS Aug 18, 2018 10:47 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Greed is what destroyed State Street. Greed of those who bought the property to use tax advantages and capital appreciation. They have no local loyalty. They have no duty to improve the community. Capitalism begets and rewards this stuff. There is no way around it without social interest legislation. Certainly catering further to the demands of the owners of these lots will only sink the taxpayers into further morass. It we would just eliminate government support for such investment schemes they would collapse overnight. That would be a free market solution.

Eggs Ackley Aug 18, 2018 10:25 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Idea #1 A Nuevo Paseo Nuevo Dejà vue all over again baby! #2 The American Riviera Bum Museum- a live, interactive multimedia exhibit with its own app. #3 Brick and Mortar retail - CC should make a motion to declare it an endangered species and apply for federal funds to protect it. #4 Live webcams like the island bald eagles. Pay per view, monthly and annual subscriptions, continuous revenue stream. #4 Aggregate benches outside properties that have been for lease for a year or more. Build a coin operated fountain adjacent, encourage tourists to put a quarter in to turn on water for a minute to watch homeless bathing. Homeless Petting Zoo! #6 Use eminent domain to seize properties that are not leased to longer term tenants. House the homeless in them. Call it the Bleeding Heart Hotel chain. Send the consultant fee to my address. Thank you

pstarSR Aug 18, 2018 10:11 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

The consultant and the previous "expert" from palm springs, all fall into the same category to me. useless opinion on a community problem, that they are NOT part of the community. city council is passing the buck of responsibility to fix the problems they started, now they will just keep hiring experts and consultants to tell them how to fix it. using our money to pay someone else to do their jobs.

SandyinSB Aug 18, 2018 08:59 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Don't you just hate committees that like to endlessly analyze problems without daring to come to a decision or implement a solution? It's a waste of time and money. Both the problems and the solutions are pretty obvious. 1. Acknowledge that Retail is becoming obsolete. To save what's left, commercial rent control (depending on the company's gross revenue or # of total employees) will allow small, unique businesses to flourish. The unique businesses used to be a huge draw for tourists and locals. Who will drive to SB to go to a Gap? 2. Make it illegal to give money directly to any homeless person. Get the homeless into a center for assistance, and some real help. Get them off the streets. Post signs throughout town stating it's illegal to hand homeless people money, along with a QR Code. Those who feel generous can take a photo of the code and donate a few dollars. This money would go directly to local charities who support the homeless, people with mental illness, and those with substance abuse. 3. Police officers on foot patrol 24/7 in downtown areas. They could issue loitering tickets, and advise all to donate to the homeless charities via the QR code rather than to the homeless directly. I do not give money to homeless, but would donate to a charity like this. 4. Convert behemoth vacant buildings, such as Macy's, to residential; whether condos or apartments. The increased presence of people downtown will support more local shops, increase property tax revenue, and decrease crime and homelessness in the area. 5. The property owners should not be penalized with a vacancy tax. That's adding insult to injury, and won't help the dying retail industry. These investors committed a lot of money into what they thought was a wise business investment. Who could've predicted they'd be obsolete due to online shopping? Let's help them through this world-wide shift of economics; not attack them. Does anyone else have any other real suggestions?

a-1537875053 Aug 18, 2018 08:53 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Trying to right a ship is much harder than keeping it on course in the first place. They screwed this town, it's gone way downhill. Even my family last time they visited were grossed out and like, why would anyone vacation here. We love Goleta - do most of our shopping there now. It's so crowded now, another 9 unit development is going in down the street and parking is awful now - has been for the last 3 years. If I owned property here I'd be selling now. If I have to move again I'll be looking either Goleta, or out.

a-1537875053 Aug 18, 2018 08:41 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Maybe they could simply talk to the mayor and city council of Goleta. I do not believe that there is even one empty storefront in Old Town Goleta, maybe one or two "empties" at the Calle Real Shopping Center, two at the Fairview Center, and the Glen Annie/Stork/Hollister corridor is doing extremely well. Goleta has vision, three new major hotels, and soon a Target; Santa Barbara has Murillo, public-defecating bums, and five new push cart vendors. Here's an idea: open up a ski resort on State Street since it's going downhill very-very fast!

LocalinSB Aug 17, 2018 09:23 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

There is a committee set up of Friedman, Murillo and Rowse. Hart proposed it. It all seem pre-planned. We're they talking before had? Isn't that a brown act violation? As for the group: Friedman can't think for himself. He quotes other's endlessly and I am sick of hearing about his kids. Murillo wants ultra expensive mega density housing with no parking and has never met a Developer she wouldn't bend over for. Rowse just wants to appease the downtown businesses. He could care less about good government. I would like to know if he could even vote on anything to do with putting higher density housing downtown. That is where his business is. Changes would affect his business financially. With this group of geniuses we are sure to have a consultant the staff wants, with the questions Developers want answered. Residents should be up in arms with this. Results will be: 2500 housing units downtown, no parking requirements, people will be able to park in the parking structures for $$$ or park in the neighborhoods.

420722 Aug 17, 2018 09:03 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I can’t wait to hear what reasons the consult comes up with. I’m sure he/she has already been instructed by the city council to tell us it’s anything but high rent and homeless. Schneider took us to the ground. Is Cathy going to bury us? Stay tuned.

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 06:31 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Seems like the council should have a pretty good idea by now what they can legally do to get the troublesome transients off State. Are they doing everything possible? Maybe the consultant will organize these special events they've been speaking of. Maybe people just want a consultant because they want Something!, Anything! to be done. I have to admit, I fall into that category. The council just keeps fussing. Time to get something going.

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 11:16 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

The cops “doing everything “ to deal with transients will only happen after the new jail is built. Now they know nothing will happen to them because there are no beds in the jail to use as deterrents.

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 06:13 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Clearly Edhatters have all the answers so the notion of hiring a consultant is immediately repugnant. HIRE US, we can direct where the City needs to go to revitalize downtown. it may not be to everyone's liking but we'll be for it. Amirite?

22701015201 Aug 17, 2018 05:56 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Friedman is an IDIOT. He made the motion. With luck he will only serve 1 term. Who does that? An IDIOT. Councilmember Dominguez tried to get parameters in, but was shot down by our IDIOT Mayor. City Hall had too many people on the Council who can't think logically or are bought off by the Developers. We need good representatives (Democrats) who are Not supported by the local Corupt Democratic Party. They just place cronies in the positions who will pander to non-residents and ruin Santa Barbara.

Z Aug 17, 2018 05:29 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

The job of a consultant isn't to solve the problems but to figure out what they really are and to lay them out so all sides know what the other sides are concerned about. Politicians need some cover and business people need some confidence in their investments. A good consultant in this situation is mainly a good listener who can dispense with BS and convince people that working together won't kill the golden goose.

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 05:02 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I'm sorry but, what exactly is there to consult about? Isn't this their job ? I'm no expert but it's fairly obvious, the problems are too high rents (we moved off state street for that reason), and the homeless problems. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Flicka Aug 17, 2018 04:29 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

Sounds like Bob Wilson hit the nail on the head. Greed, greed, greed! I doubt this "consultant" can get around that with ideas to revitalize.

Bob Wilson Aug 17, 2018 03:58 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I heard a long time ago that the landlords keep the rent high because they use that high rent to increase the value of the property on paper. This then allows them to borrow on the property and use the borrowed money to increase their investment power. They don't care about leasing the properties. They don't care about the vitality of downtown. The property is simply a vehicle to leverage into other investments.

PitMix Aug 20, 2018 08:17 AM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I guess that argument assumes that the landlords are making so much money from Prop 13 benefits and their other investments that they don't mind taking significant losses on some of their property? It seems amazing that this would be true. But maybe it is. Do they really hate paying taxes on profits so much?

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 04:42 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I heard something similar but from a tax perspective. Owners prefer to take a loss on the higher rent to negate income from other properties. It becomes more profitable to take a loss and hold the value than to drop rent.

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 03:12 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

This vote to hire a consultant came out of the Tuesday meeting that had a large attendance, and several State Street business owners and landlords spoke about what they want to see happen. I got the impression that the city council doesn't have the chops to come up with a game plan, so they want to bring in someone who might actually have an effect. My first thought was Oh no, not another highly paid outsider with great ideas that go nowhere. But if the business owners want it, maybe it is worth a shot. I'm skeptical, but hopeful.

CoastWatch Aug 17, 2018 02:42 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

The City will contract out to make it look like they have the power to "do something..." The reality is, some unfamiliar East Coast or Los Angeles based consultant with NO CLUE about local issues, (namely BUMS on State St) and over inflated sq footage values for Tee shirt shops and "boutique" stores...lol. The only way out is to create a 3rd Street Promenade shopping district like in Santa Monica, where it is Policed to keep bums OUT and it's limited to foot traffic.

a-1537875053 Aug 17, 2018 03:18 PM
What's a State Street Consultant Going to do?

I agree. Limit several blocks of State Street to foot traffic only. Keep it clean. Now, I never go lower than Victoria Street. Just not a nice place to visit or shop. If I need something now, I go to Goleta (with lower sales tax) or Ventura (lower tax rate). Wait a day or two - online is the way to shop.

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