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