By Bonnie Donovan
The below is an open letter to the City of Santa Barbara mayor and council that has been signed by over 150 local residents and is submitted to edhat for publication.
Mr. Mayor & City Council Members:
We believe that it is essential that we immediately restore El Pueblo Viejo (State Street) by reinstaNng vehicular flow to revive business and to use our time, talents, and money for more pressing issues!
This letter is a call to action- for division to cease, cooperation to commence, and for the vision that our city’s forebearers charted prior to the June 19, 1925 earthquake (and formalized shortly thereafter) be respected and balanced with the present needs of all of our community members. Any proposed changes need to be vetted in a non-biased, non-politicized manner with reasonable timelines.
As residents and taxpayers, we rely upon you, our leaders and city staff to make considered and objective decisions. Ideologies and subjective opinions are irrelevant and have no place in government. It is essential that we take care of today’s needs before skipping to other possibilities of what our town “should” or “might” be down the line. Let’s get back to the baseline first. Keep things simple, address our basic needs now and then work through the Master Plan to address possible future improvements. Protect the use of our Public Right-of-Way for all of our citizens and visitors.
- Increase support of our local law enforcement to protect citizens, visitors, and property.
- Ensure a safe and clean downtown, address and eliminate open drug use, hostile transients, and open toileting, etc.
- Recognize that our downtown corridor and El Pueblo Viejo along State Street is one of our greatest city assets and attractions. Adhere to Historic Landmarks Commission regarding elements in El Pueblo Viejo district, as required and outlined in our City Charter Section 817, subsection (c) “The Historic Landmarks Commission shall have the power and duty to: Review and approve, disapprove, or approve with conditions, plans for exterior alteration, demolition, relocation, moving, or construction of or on: (1) any structures or real property within El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District, (2) any structures or real property within any designated Landmark District, (3) any additional property authorized by action of the City Council; (4) a designated Landmark.”
- Recognize all members of our community – young and old- ARE the community and have value.
- Understand what equal access to the Public Right-of-Way means and that it is required by law. Ensure that access is provided for those who live with challenges. Families with children and strollers need access too!
- Work for equal and proportionate distribution of city resources to all businesses.
- Remove outdoor dining in the street – move outdoor dining back to sidewalks where it has successfully operated for years. We all agree and want outdoor dining!
- Encourage shop owners that sell unique and bespoke wares. Shopping is one of the most popular activities when one is on vacation. Tourists want to shop and find something uniquely Santa Barbara to purchase.
- Open up State Street to cars and bicycles and reinstate the trolley/shuttle – all sharing the two traffic lanes and with the pedestrians on the beautiful brick sidewalks. Keep the movement slow and relaxing.
- Parades belong on State Street within El Pueblo Viejo. Temporarily close State Street (or portions thereof) for parades, weekly farmers market, etc. as the city has done historically.
- Visit other communities– San Luis Obispo, Carmel, Solvang, Coast Village Road, Carpinteria’s Linden Avenue. All have returned to pre-Covid conditions with vehicles and pedestrians in their downtowns. And all are thriving.
- Work to build housing with developers to achieve balance and diversity in our housing and built environment.
We encourage our community to embrace inclusivity and to welcome newcomers to our beautiful town and the enthusiasm that they bring. We encourage everyone that holds our city dear to participate in activities that bring a deeper understanding of Santa Barbara’s culture, history, buildings and natural environment.
We thank you for working on our behalf. We support our democratic process and count on you to support our needs. We will continue to be available, engaged and attentive.
Op-Ed’s are written by community members, not representatives of edhat. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat
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