Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

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By Moises Medina

Why have we had to wait a year for our City to work on extending the promenade to our 400 block of State Street? What have we got from sacrificing a year of our livelihoods?

The excuses our city provides to why our block is not being included in the current State Street promenade project are unfounded! Their latest is that emergency Fire and Police logistics are an obstruction, yet both departments have stated that there is an immediate path to getting this done in a way that meets all their needs. If Gutierrez has to be turned into a two-way street between State and Chapala to accomplish this, we have seen no motion for the City to do this, meanwhile they go to great expense to embellish the rest of State street with more decoration and a great effort to approve and implement a green bike lane to further benefit everyone but us. This is insult to our injury. Why can these resources not be allocated to the rescue of our suffering businesses? Is the City simply turning their faces on a portion of the Central Busines District? Is someone afraid that we would take away business from the rest of the downtown? Where is the equity in this? Covid 19 is no time to play politics. It is the time to support all the businesses we can. We are all in this together. 

For years, our block has endured a stigma of being “undesirable” and “dirty”, but what has NEVER been celebrated is that our block is possibly the MOST culturally diverse section of State Street. The only conclusion we have left to make from our situation is that there is a deep and underlying bias and prejudice within our City government against the minority people of color who own and operate businesses on this block. We sit and suffer as we watch our privileged neighbors further up the street thrive and relish in their street closure. In an era when racial inequity has been center stage in our nation, it is awful that our City staff and Councilmembers chose to perpetuate their own participation in this systemic racism and the furtherment of the grip of white supremacy in our town, without even acknowledging how it affects their own priorities.

The State Street closure has been extended for another year, but we will not suffer in silence anymore. Our local government’s continual celebration of their “immediate” closure of State Street serves only as self-congratulation for those more concerned about political gain than the livelihood of ALL their constituents. Hear our cry for help!

We hope that Oscar Gutierrez can continue to be an ally for us in fighting the systems of oppression that endure in working against us in Santa Barbara and everywhere, and can provide the leadership that others simply seem to be incapable of. Please prove that the City cares about us and can get this done before we have to wait another year for relief.


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mferrer Mar 19, 2021 11:55 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Ditto @JUSTCRUZ !

More importantly, the closure &/or proposed solution would provide safer conditions regarding parklet operations for employees, diners, and pedestrians. Dining outdoors is much more enjoyable without the thought of possibly getting hit by passing vehicles.

https://www.400block.us/

Je2ry6 Mar 18, 2021 12:27 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

None of State Street should ever have been closed. The whole idea is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as calling it racist to not include the 400 block.
The street should be opened by fall, when COVID has been pretty well controlled.

SBWalkers Mar 18, 2021 08:47 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Any comments on racism are off base.
The planners are not thinking it through. The 400 block should be included in the promenade. I walk that street at least 4+ times a week and I keep feeling it is too 'odd'.
The solution is simple, make Gutierrez two way from Chapala to Santa Barbara St. (Yes - SB street!). Let the city traffic department put necessary traffic safety signs accordingly.

localSBtown Mar 17, 2021 01:28 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

I sympathize with the writer here. For those doubting the role that implicit bias and racism could be playing here and elsewhere in our town, surely there was no round table discussion about giving minorities the short end of the stick. What the OP might be expressing is that BIPOC have to ask every day whether the actions of those in power are influenced by a larger and imbedded racism that makes life for them more difficult than others. With the 400 block, the City has not given satisfactory answers why the block hasn't been closed, and it has now been an entire year! We have to face the possibility of what this article suggests here and everywhere at least until the City addresses it head on and starts giving better answers. Don't bash people for expressing experiences and concerns that you might not understand.

dukemunson Mar 17, 2021 02:53 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

localsbtown - But the city has gotten pushback, and there ARE people that don't want it. As such, they aren't going to expand it before the sub committees findings because a few more business owners want it. They are going to let the government machine "work" and come up with a plan that annoys everyone to the least/most amount possible.

So...what's stopping the immediate closure is the study of the current closure and a long term plan. Yes, the city probably could expand it, but since they did this they have to contend with the X number of people that dont want it, and X number of other government agencies involved in changing 1 way streets and emergencies plans. All very doable!! But it's clearly not racism...it's government! They have to study their experiment...and then weigh who they want to annoy more/less in regards to a bigger close, smaller close or no close.

localSBtown Mar 17, 2021 02:42 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

It is well and good to discuss all the implications of a permanent closure, but what about the temporary one? What is stopping the temporary closure of the 400 block now? It has been extended for another year due to the success of the "experiment". The people are saying that they want it. Once things go back to normal and people can dine inside again, there will be time to discuss the details and implications, but in the meantime, businesses are hurting and the City could easily make this happen for the next year.

dukemunson Mar 17, 2021 02:11 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

LOCALSBTOWN - The seemingly obvious answer though is that the city, after rather quickly pushing through approval of the original plan to close parts of State, met some resistance (to any close/change) and as such formed a sub committee to study the issues. Once that happened, they weren't going to change the blocks or expand it, they were going to stick with what the current was and allow the sub committee to meander towards a final plan. So no, it doesn't seem reasonable to think that the 400 block and 700 block not being closed off is racist. The pushed quickly forward with the few closed blocks experiment which was controversial at the time and...now seemingly like it and want to keep it and possibly expand it.
But. that is going to take time and be part of the approval of what the final State Street plan is.
So there is your answer, the plan is meandering through sub committee hell...but in another year the 400 block may be closed as well. No palpable or apparent racism to be seen. The experiment was never going to be more than a couple of blocks, and once it hit criticism, it wasn't going to be expanded until a clear consensus and plan emerged. Below is the Independent article from February calling for State Street not to be closed at all and listing many reasons why. Personally I like it being closed off...just get rid of the damn bikes!!!

https://www.independent.com/2021/02/18/the-future-of-state-street/

NostraChumash Mar 17, 2021 12:06 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Does anyone see any Chumash businesses anywhere?..no.
I had a Native tour co for about 4 years, even the Chamber of commerce ripped me off for 6 complimentary tours ($600)..
I've also submitted several business plans which were not accepted due to SB believing I was going to
"Shed SB in a negative light" to tourists.
Yes, SB is guilty of rascism & always has been..that's just the american way.

Babycakes Mar 18, 2021 12:00 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Chumash descendants own plenty of local businesses, plus there's this place that is currently promoting their business as "Freedom" called the Chumash Casino. So, yes plenty of Chumash businesses around. Why were you giving away tours to begin with? Biz 101 = don't give away freebies (which they also clearly state in Biz 100). My Father used to say, "You're Giving Away The Store!!!" when I helped a person who couldn't afford to have some work done.

localSBtown Mar 17, 2021 01:34 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Asking the question of whether one's situation is a result of unfair treatment seems reasonable to me, especially when the businesses on the 400 block have been waiting for a whole year for a closure and have not even been given satisfactory reasons for the contrary.

Voice of Reason Mar 17, 2021 12:09 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

It's starting to be like how it used to be hard to find an article even only tangentially related to nature that didn't end with a "because of climate change". Now it's "because of systemic racism". Yes, both exist, but they are not the cause of all of our woes.

Voice of Reason Mar 17, 2021 10:59 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

"it is awful that our City staff and Councilmembers chose to perpetuate their own participation in this systemic racism and the furtherment of the grip of white supremacy in our town, without even acknowledging how it affects their own priorities." --------WTF? It's like city council did a survey and said, "hold it, 400 block has too many minorities we're going stop the pedestrian promenade right at the 400 block". seriously?

sbfan805 Mar 17, 2021 12:21 PM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Perhaps it is not fair to claim discrimination, but I also empathize with a BIPOC business owner who has watched the rest of the neighborhood receive such focused attention and assistance from the City when he and his neighbors have not. What else is he to think?

doulie Mar 17, 2021 11:52 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

Voice - The use of "systemic racism" and "white supremacy" in your comment and in the hundreds of thousands of other comments throughout America before yours almost make the words meaningless. Get specific. The words are passe. Please identify, by name, the "white supremacists" that have their "grip" in Santa Barbara. You don't have to identify all of these people, just identify the "top ten."

Voice of Reason Mar 17, 2021 11:31 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

I agree. I listened (read the article) and was pretty much on board until they got to the racism part. The claim about the city / city council being systemically racist simply isn't substantiated in anything written, nor in any actions relating to the State Street closure while also ignoring the many minority businesses benefiting from the portion of State St. they did close. It was like it was added as an afterthought.

PitMix Mar 17, 2021 10:43 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

If the Gutierrez one-way is unacceptable, how does the Haley one-way work out? Police and Fire have driving access on the rest of the promenade, right? Otherwise someone should tell those businesses using electricity and fire, like every business in that stretch.

AwareHuman Mar 17, 2021 10:08 AM
Op-Ed: The City Doesn't Care About the 400 Block of State Street

I hope this unfair situation is rectified soon. One has to wonder if pressure to maintain a slick first impression for tourists is the real reason for no parklets , and if the new hotel has some say in this decision. (?,). Tourists have way , way too much sway in SB.

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