State Street Promenade Gets New Look

State Street Promenade Gets New Look title=
State Street Promenade Gets New Look
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

Downtown State Street is being improved with new landscaped terracotta pots, traffic control signage, bollards, and green bike lanes at each intersection. The purpose of the interim intersection control project is to replace the temporary construction feeling with something that has more of a Santa Barbara style.

The interim intersection controls are anticipated to be replaced with permanent State Street improvements yet to be determined. This will likely take a minimum of 3 years to develop and fund. The current project is anticipated to be completed in February.

The City Council formed a State Street Subcommittee to oversee the visioning process for the future downtown State Street. The Subcommittee will be meeting on January 25 to begin to review the public input and feedback generated through the outreach efforts from the fall.

A community survey is still open until the end of January, those who have not taken the survey are encouraged to do so at

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sbgroover Jan 15, 2021 02:08 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

As a lover of Santa Barbara since I first came here for UCSB in 1963 and one who has been at various times a semi-serious biker (bicycle and possibly recumbent tri-cycler soon), walker, cruiser, shopper, parade fan, diner, movie goer, film festival volunteer, etc, I have decided to change my opinion on this issue after reviewing the previous comments. I now think our best solution would involve well controlled one way (south) traffic on State from Victoria to Gutierrez AND closing down the State Street to cars, etc from Gutierrez to the Beach. with one way bicycle lanes limited to the present bike, walkways(doubled in width) on the sides of the freeway underpass (wait a sec and imagine the rest). This would effectively make a "classier" (more expensive) area for tourists, diners, partygoers south of Gutierrez. This area under the freeway if well lit could be a "Santa Barbara underground" (like many big cities have) and join with the funk zone .
In going under the freeway, tourists/locals could have 2 choices. They could walk along the current elevated walkway(widened) under the freeway or they may choose to walk at street level through the "Santa Barbara underground" which could have space for a jazz club, maybe dancing in the street at night ( with a light show on the underside of the freeway), a restaurant or two, a tattoo parlor, and whatever you can imagine (with a chance of success). This would allow a tourist to go at night for their "walk on the wild side"
As mentioned before, on the biking/walking lanes under the freeway, each could be widened (each possibly twice or more as wide). I think there would be a benefit to have one side only for north bike traffic and one for fsouth with attractive street lighting, in Paris at night, a little mystery.
This would also have a benefit of slowing down traffic approaching the underpass (before turning away at Gutierrez) and keeping the very loud noises from cars and motorcycles bent on setting volume records away from the residential population and tourist hangouts. The tourists and locals could then enjoy pleasant, sea breezed evenings for many blocks around.
In the area north of Gutierrez I think the one way traffic idea would really help with the new businesses fronting State street because as people would be seeing MANY more displays/storefronts as they pass by slowly in cars. This could reminded them how much "stuff" they still need to purchase. Traffic could be controlled somewhat by how many crosswalks for tourists were in place. The Santa Barbara parades would still have their venue.
Another aspect that I think would help immensely is secured parking for bicycles with paid attendants so folks would know their bicycles are watched over and they wouldn't return to find their bent front tires and rims locked to a tree. There could be 4 or 5 of these bicycle storage areas along the side streets along State, each secure and guarded by uniformed security people. These bicycle guards would stay at their assigned position for standard shifts, so a shopping shift, eating shift, evening shift), times associated with standard times for bikers. This would help greatly in getting "tips" because bikers are dealing with the same person. Additionally, folks who were really paranoid because of the value of their bikes could also personally lock their bikes within the secure/monitored area that would have camera security also.
These are a few of the things I'd add to give us a unique, secure, business friendly State street. I'm already excited about visiting and hope I'm still around to do so and enjoy some of the unique features.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 03:12 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Very creative idea. I like how you think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. My one concern is how would traffic be addressed when it coms to getting across the 101? That leaves only the route via Garden or all the way over on Castillo to cross over and access the ocean areas and I think that's really problematic from a traffic/flow perspective. I agree with you that if there is an area that is most suited to full closure of the lanes entirely to vehicular traffic, it could be the very newly redeveloped waterfront area. Yanonali to Cabrillo would be ideal to begin with. Very cool idea, just concerned about the number of people who actually do need to cross the 101 having only the Castillo or Garden throughways to do so.

ZeroHawk Jan 15, 2021 10:00 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

guys...why all of the negativity towards this? This is something that the majority of downtown locals have wanted for decades. Failure? It's not going to fail as long as it's opened. The only way this can fail is if everything remains closed and that is beyond our control. 3rd street did not fail. Are you talking about 3rd St now? Or 3rd St 30 years ago? I recall being there in the late 80s, 90s and early 00s and it was packed, bustling and incredibly fun. Nothing lasts forever and trends change as do shopping habits. I could say the same for Santa Barbara too. No good shopping here...anywhere. In fact its been crapola shopping downtown since the late 1990s. Stop being such sourpusses about this. What else do you expect them to do? They are trying to do something for us, so stop the wanking. Add some constructive ideas and submit them. Hopping online to merely cry about things that aren't your liking is a massive waste of your own time and accomplishes nothing. If you really want to make changes and make a difference, then actually get up and get my kids and I have.

sacjon Jan 15, 2021 10:14 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

ZERO - I'll agree 100% with you on this. As a native, hanging out on State in the 80s and 90s, I always wondered why anyone would need to drive up and down it for anything other than people watching. Shut it down permanently and keep it a promenade! We moved out to Goleta and I don't go downtown much anymore, but the last few times we did, it was awesome (before the recent lockdown)! Sitting in little mini "beer gardens" and walking in the street was great! There even seemed to be less "gamey" homeless out and about. It was cleaner and mellow. Keep it like this. No need to drive lower State.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 10:09 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

I did add constructive ideas, Zero. I laid out my plan in detail, which I believe should please many people. :) Some things that seem like good ideas, aren't. I do think SB has lots of people who never want things to change. Ideally, we can change in ways that please the most locals as possible, and retains our local flavor while optimizing for success. Yes, you're right Third Street Promenade was bustling back then. So was State Street. I miss State Street and Paseo Nuevo of the '90s and even early '00s! It was amazing. The challenges facing downtown will not be solved by the promenade. We need a way to add housing on State Street, break up large retail spaces into smaller spaces, streamline permitting processes and get rid of arcane rules, and to increase pedestrian friendliness through stuff like widening sidewalks. We don't need to get rid of traffic entirely, and starting with the most extreme option with the least immediately verifiable ROI seems like an odd choice. I think there is something risky about sealing off a part of town to vehicles. It makes it hard for people to survey an area, take it in, and pinpoint stuff they want to come back to see, visit, shop at, etc. State Street can be quite beautiful, and limiting people's ability to see it by car and forcing them onto side streets is an odd choice. I actually think sealing off some of our side streets between State/Chapala and State/Anacapa could be a better choice overall.

ZeroHawk Jan 15, 2021 10:04 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

and any comments about needing to drive down state...i'll toss this in now. Why? You can't park on state and no one cares if you're cruising in your 2003 SUV. No one cruises state anymore, that ended decades ago. Driving down state is pointless unless you're a 20something with a nice stereo and even then, it's pointless. That argument has made me laugh for decades. "I like to look at the stores" ok park and take a walk. "I like to see people" ok park and take a walk. "I like people to see my lame car and hear my lame music" oh ok...again...park and take a walk lol

bosco Jan 14, 2021 01:24 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

I think the promenade is well overdue. There is absolutely NO reason someone needs to be driving on that section of State street. Before the outdoor dining shutdown that place was like a new world. It didn't feel like the homeless haven it had become, there was renewed life. Let's face it, certain areas are made for tourists (even the most hated LA kind). We SBers have to accept that and be ok with it. Plus it's fun to be a tourist in your own town sometime. Personally, I'd hate to see cars back. However, I am no fan of the bike path. Too many people fly through there and it get's dangerous. It should be pedestrian only. Final designs will obviously allow for emergency vehicles and I imagine they could set it up the occasional parade as well (think Disneyland). Like it or not, State street of past is gone. It's time to look forward to something new. It's one of the few positives that has come from COVID.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 09:48 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

I don't agree at all re: the promenade. I think it will fail, just like Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which prior to COVID had a 15% vacancy rate and developers have suggested spending 60-70 million to revamp it in order to "make it a success again." The real problem for SM, which will be the same thing here, are large spaces that are no longer relevant to contemporary retail environment. The promenade won't change that. What I definitely agree with you on is that having a bike lane in the middle is a bad idea, and doesn't contribute to the relaxed pedestrian flow that seems to be the entire point of this thing. I personally advocate for a hybrid model of a single lane of 10mph traffic headed toward the water, along with a dedicated bike line in that section. But without car traffic, having a bike lane mixed in with pedestrians seems kind of like a nightmare. Anyone who has been to Amsterdam can see how annoying it for locals who rely on the awesome bike highways to deal with tourist who end up getting in the way, etc. As well as how intimidating it can feel to a tourist there trying to navigate around hordes of Dammers whizzing by on their bikes. No shade to Amsterdam, it's awesome - and I wish we had bike paths everywhere like Holland. But this isn't Holland, and a bike path in the middle of an alleged pedestrian promenade seems to kind of ruin the whole vibe.

chico berkeley Jan 14, 2021 01:22 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

The L.A.ionization of my hometown is complete.
Goodbye Local culture.
Say hello to the new normal.
May seem okay if you are new to town.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 10:16 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

For sure, Duke. I personally don't see how the promenade addresses any of the existing problems: retail spaces that are way too large for contemporary retail needs, homelessness, difficult permitting processes for opening businesses, arcane and misguided rules that make business hard for people (example: Institution Ale's fight to keep its interior neon sign which looks awesome and clearly draws people in while paying homage to the streamline moderne era of the unique building it inhabits), landlords who hold out for corporate tenants that never come rather than rent to locals as it's better for their portfolios and bolsters their borrowing capacity to bag a corporate tenant, etc. It seems to me it might be easier to seem like we're "doing something" by putting in the promenade, than actually tackling the much bigger issues haunting downtown retail, including the biggest question of all: do we even need as much retail as we used to have? The answers seems to be no, and I am hoping we can see some redevelopment of retail and office space into some awesome downtown housing. By doing so, we wouldn't even necessarily need to build anything new to begin with, just repurpose. That should please the people who want more housing, and the preservationists who want nothing to change. In the meantime, we bolster the downtown population which leads to more feet on the ground to support businesses.

dukemunson Jan 14, 2021 01:53 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

To play devils advocate here, the state of the street was pretty shaky pre-covid. Shuttered shops, grime and aggressive panhandling greeted you every time you visited. As much as I love SB of the 80's...where State street was in 2019 isn't something to be nostalgic about.

Ahchooo Jan 14, 2021 08:44 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Everyone should complete the survey (see link at the end of the article) and tell the city what you want. Traffic lanes? Shuttle buses? No vehicles at all? They don’t ask that specifically, but there are spaces where you can say what you want.

Ahlia Jan 14, 2021 08:39 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

LOVE SB TOWNIE comments ! What a great compromise :-) Thank you for your very thoughtful & well explained suggestions. What a nice refreshing change to read "positive" ideas for our beloved town !

SBTownie Jan 14, 2021 08:22 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Thank you! I REALLY love this city. I have lived in numerous major cities across the world and I am so happy to have returned to my hometown. I believe we can preserve what is so special about Santa Barbara while coming up with some practical, real-world solutions to fix what is not going well, and do spur development that will not cause Santa Barbara to lose its sense of place. Unfortunately, I do not always feel that our leaders, representatives, and appointed officials (who run many of the committees) truly know what is best for us. I wonder if they read EdHat? Methinks not.

oops Jan 14, 2021 08:18 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

that's nice...what are they going to do about the homeless hanging out in the area? They are business killers

greytfull Jan 14, 2021 08:13 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

If you look at the concept image with its colorful, vibrant flower jardinieres, and then the actual planted pots, filled with non-related, flat (overused) succulents, it sure is a disappointment.
They could have used plastic succulents to achieve the same homely effect.

Crystalandmaui Jan 14, 2021 07:38 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Can that legally be done? Closes the street access, so how do emergency vehicles get down there or the police if needed on a timely matter???? I do like the designated bike lanes. Outside dinning is great, a lot of us enjoy the sun on our faces and observing the people. But I hope it does tapper down once this is under control because all those tables are taking up all the room right now. Widen the sidewalks for some outdoor sitting, single lane driving and bike lanes. Maybe they’ll rethink their plan.

tagdes Jan 14, 2021 09:38 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

It shows flexible delineators in the middle of the bike lane so emergency vehicles could drive right over them.

PitMix Jan 14, 2021 07:34 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Most of that stuff looks easy to move. No way SB will stop their parades. It's in our blood to love a parade.

taraSB Jan 13, 2021 03:45 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Flower pot dividers are fine, but the City had the audacity to hire a Los Angeles-based landscaper to do the project! We should have opened the bid to SB county landscapers only.

First LA brings us COVID infected daytrippers, then they take away work from local businesses, all so the city can save a buck. Shameful.

Basicinfo805 Jan 13, 2021 02:02 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Reinforces why I don't give a cr-p to hang out in downtown ever again. Used to be fun. Let's see what happens.

SBTownie Jan 13, 2021 01:51 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

I'm not sure this will end up the success so many think it will be. Every time I have been downtown since this was implemented, it felt like even more of a ramshackle seedy encampment than it did before. One homeless street preacher now has the entire block for his sermons to echo through, no din of engines to drown him out. Another vagrant always has a boombox playing dance music, more echoing. It'll no doubt delight the drinkers on lower state. More room to party. I'm not insulting; I miss a stiff afternoon drink at Joe's myself, but a massive bar culture isn't exactly what we want to cultivate, either. I envision carts hawking mall junk like phone cases, etc. I don't know. It just doesn't feel right, it's forced and not what our town is historically based on. And how do you add housing on State Street if you can't access it by vehicle? My suggestion to the city was widened sidewalks, a single lane of vehicular traffic going down toward the ocean (no uptown lane, but leaves possibility for parades open) with a 10mph speed limit, and a devoted, safe bike lane. Shutting it down entirely? No thanks. Never being able to cruise down State Street again makes me sad. That's an iconic SB experience, and Californians love their cars. We can have our cake and eat it, too, with this one but for some reason they're going all in on shutting the street down it seems? When did we, uh, agree to this? It won't be the panacea they're telling themselves it will be. Third Street Promenade (often held up as an example by locals supporting this; to me, a banal stretch of chain stores that doesn't feel very nice at all) in Santa Monica was already suffering 15% vacancy before COVID hit.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 05:10 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Of course I've seen those, VOR. Press Room redevelopment is scrapped is my understanding. And not sure why you think that those two proposals are indicative of what everything else can or would be? Yes, there are parking lots and inlets behind many of the frontages of State Street. I have, you know, lived here and been downtown. But a pedestrian thoroughfare could then end up dictating how housing is built downtown, which I don't view as a good thing. Enjoy your weekend.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 05:07 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Hahaha, thanks, Jon. I had fun with that one. Now I'm going to go make a negroni, officially kick off the weekend, and think about the piles of theory I've read, the case studies I've digested, the projects I've worked on, the successful changes I've seen in the cities I've lived in, and leave VOR with the fact that a rough assessment of pedestrian mall conversions in the US finds about an 80-90% failure rate, with those that do not succeed eventually converting back. I personally used to back this idea (and still definitely support major changes downtown) and thought it could work for years. Upon getting deeper into the literature and really researching this over the last three years, I've changed my stance and no longer support a full closure of State St. If anything, I think closing some side streets between Chapala and Anacapa could be better, or creating a total closer down toward the water in the "new" tourist area. Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!

Voice of Reason Jan 15, 2021 05:05 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

With those credentials I'm surprised you assumed the multi-family component of a downtown mixed use project would be accessed from a pedestrian only street. The two designs I've seen, the one for the Staples and where the Press Room is are both accessed from the rear or side street.

SBTownie Jan 15, 2021 04:44 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Are you intentionally so patronizing, VOR? I have a degree in urban studies and a professional background in successful retail development in New York City and architecture and design in London. I am part of the third generation in my family to work in these industries, including property development, both residential and commercial. I have been involved in the town halls and about this issue, the city council meetings, numerous other meetings and committee hearings on related topics for years here. I'm not an imbecile but thanks for your input.

Voice of Reason Jan 15, 2021 04:01 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

SBTown any residential component of a downtown mixed use building won't have it's main access on State Street so people and the packages would be dropped off on a side street or from back of the block. The ground floor State St. frontage would be used for the commercial part of the mixed use project. It's a good thing people more knowledgeable about urban planning are making the decisions and recommendations. I'd recommend your take a look at the "vision Santa Barbara" concepts put together by those very experienced in this area, they're put up in windows around downtown.

SBTownie Jan 14, 2021 08:19 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

I agree, @2:19 that is is what they will say. However, having been a big city denizen in NYC and London for years (native Barbareña, however, and happy to be home) it is imperative residents have the ability to be dropped off in front of their homes. This is relevant for bringing home packages, etc. or for those with disabilities. Most New Yorkers and Londoners don't have cars, but there are times you must rely on taxi, Uber, etc. and you need access to the front of your building. This is only part of why I believe completely cutting off traffic on State St. with the hopes of reinvigorating it and adding housing is moronic.

a-1610662784 Jan 14, 2021 02:19 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Good points! But as for housing downtown and no vehicular traffic: if Rob Dayton has anything to say about it, and he's the traffic czar and has _a lot_ to say about it, he and his minions on the planning commission, Reed, Bonderson, Schwartz, and Higgins, with supporters on the city council, those living downtown won't have cars, no parking for them, except blocks away in pay-by-month parking. Deliveries can be made via Chapala St.

Sail380 Jan 13, 2021 12:42 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear. What about the empty stores and homeless population? Higher priorities need to be looked at...

Voice of Reason Jan 15, 2021 03:55 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Zerohawk, please take an accounting class. There are no write offs for shuttered buildings and any depreciation expense offsets income whether the space is occupied or not, it's always better to have more income coming in than less/none. I don't know about Saks but Macy's and Radio Shack had issues unrelated to Santa Barbara. I get how building owners are an easy target because many, like your self, have no idea the complexities with owning and managing commercial real estate and just assume if someone invests/owns commercial real estate they're uber rich.

ZeroHawk Jan 14, 2021 10:00 AM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Sail, the homeless are more abundant across the freeway, near SBCC and the marina, the ones downtown are fewer and far between compared to other areas of downtown. They won't see that as a problem for downtown corridor. The shuttered buildings is up to the building owners. The city has allowed this to happen for over 30 (40?) years. Do you remember Esaus? That building is still boarded up after 20 years, other buildings as well. Macys? Saks? Radio Shack and many many many more. This is the norm for SB. Let the land barons control downtown. They use the shuttered buildings as tax write offs....

Always_Running Jan 13, 2021 12:31 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Why are their 4 bollards in the middle of the road? Shouldn’t they be between the plastic terracotta pots? Doesn’t that cause a traffic nightmare for emergency vehicles maneuvering around stopping cars.

Always_Running Jan 14, 2021 08:07 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

Then they should paint “keep clear”. But I was thinking traffic traveling north to south cross state street. Civilian cars move over, but the black bollards would prevent them going down the center of the road.

bosco Jan 14, 2021 01:26 PM
State Street Promenade Gets New Look

The yellow traffic post is likely removable and provides access to emergency vehicles over the green bike path. I can't imagine that would be an issue.

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