State Street Promenade Survey Results Released

By edhat staff

The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released the State Street Promenade and housing community survey results.

Earlier this month, local architects launched a “2020 Design Charrette to Reinvigorate, Reinvent, Reimagine, and Repurpose” Santa Barbara’s downtown area.

AIA states the “Charrette” consists of 16 design teams who will apply their expertise to envision a future Downtown Santa Barbara. The community survey was meant to inform the designers as they solve problems and illustrate new ideas for downtown.

“Our assumptions about large retail and office space as the foundation of our downtowns are being shattered. The level of interest and concern about downtown Santa Barbara’s health is demonstrated by the nearly 5,000 survey responses the AIA has received and the 150+ design professionals who will volunteer their time this month and next to ‘Repurpose, Reimagine, Reuse, and Reenvision Downtown State Street,’” said Architect Dennis Thompson.

Approximately 4,800 survey responses were received in English and Spanish with 98% of respondents living in Santa Barbara’s South Coast. Over 24% of people were over 65 years of age, 20% in the 25 to 34 age range, and 18% in the 35 to 44 range.

Over 93% of respondents supported the idea of permanently closing part of State Street to vehicular traffic in one form or another. Results were closer when it included cyclists with 56% approving the promenade for bicyclists as well as pedestrians and 35% favoring only pedestrian use. 

The top four categories for long-term activities on State Street included dining, music, art, and places to sit. 

Perhaps the most debated issue of downtown development is the incorporation of high-density housing. 63% of respondents approved the idea of more housing in the downtown State Street area. The majority of support was geared toward small one to two-bedroom rental units capped at no higher than three stories in height.

The majority of respondents stated they would need a car if living downtown and would pay extra for a parking space.

The full list results are available here.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


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  1. Keeping the pedestrian zone with cross streets open seems like a nobrainer at this point. I think having a good bike lane down the middle would be nice but may cause more problems than it’s worth.
    There too many clueless pedestrians and dangerous bike cruisers for that to safely work. I’d also add that having the ability to open up the street for parades is still important. Even though I’m personally not a parade person, SB seems to thrive on these State Street Parades and that should continue. Maybe take a cue from Disneyland on how that’s done. Not sure how I missed this survey, I would love to have contributed.

  2. Closing State Street is a terrible idea. Expanding sidewalk dining is okay, but auto traffic and easy pedestrian access to shops as well needs to remain – not the obstacle course it has become. . Closing State Street to auto traffic was a dagger into the heart of our own downtown. Closing the first block on a few side streets off State Street that creates meadering, occasional courtyard if you must, but not the entire main downtown traffic corridor. Re-invent the midblock paseos to be pedestrian destinations that connect these single side street traffic blocked courtyards. I like the West Victoria – one block closure. That works 100% better than closing the entire long main street. See if a few more of these one side street block closures could work, scattered along State Street, but keeping most of the main cross traffic streets open.

  3. Providing parking kills the economics of the project. Too bad that program where you could rent cars in your neighborhood didn’t succeed. That is really what we need instead of everyone having their cars sit unused 90% of the time.

  4. I wonder what this obsession with building height comes from? State Street is the one place where taller buildings makes sense. I don’t hear that anyone wants to demolish the Granada Building and it is pretty tall. A really dense core would allow other areas to stay less dense or undeveloped. Like it or not, we will get there eventually due to population growth. Might as well figure this out now and do it sustainably.

  5. I disagree pit (big surprise), letting them build a really dense core can and will only lead to developers wanting the same at every busier part of town. Tsunami- same here, based on the questions, it appears they already know the end result they just wanted to see how much push back they’re going to get.

  6. i am against state street turning into a promenade.
    i was born here in 64 and i just think it is a lame idea. i understand how we had to widen the freeway and take out the highway lights and make state go under the freeway.. though i remember a record store called the turning point.. where i bought albums.. and i think i parked out in front of it before all that happened.
    i just think that no matter what you all think about this change being a good thing.. state street will not be what it used to be.. which was, in my opinion, exactly what it ought to be.
    there ought to be foot traffic.. on the sidewalks.. and there ought to be car traffic.. on the street. there ought to be this mix. it’s a good mix. the cars aren’t the pedestrians.. and the pedestrians aren’t the cars. each has their special place. but when the cars are taken away.. everything becomes boring and monotonous. it’s just another step in the homogezation of santa barbara into an everytown.. and if that’s what you want.. then you’ll get it.. but santa barbara won’t be santa barbara anymore.. no matter what you think.

  7. The Granada Building, built before the Great Earthquake, was clearly a one and done. Because it was so tall, the city knew it wanted no more like it. They made the smart choice for us back then. We honor their legacy. And we honor the town they carefully built after the Great Earthquake, when the Granada was the last man standing – a reinforced concrete novelty building at the time. Though none of the law office clients ever wanted to visit the law offices in that building for a long, long time so the big local firms moved to lower story buildings near by.

  8. Speaking of alternatives to not owning a car, a court injuction just saved Uber and Lyft in this state from leaving at the 11th hour, from the draconian impacts of Democrat super-majority AB-5, which is trying to destroy the gig economy. So if these two operations now get an AB-5 free pass, why not every other gig worker who chose not to be an “employee” and was quite happy with their independent contractor employment options?

  9. Please explain why anyone ever needs to drive down state street. There is no parking and it is not a thoroughfare. There is literally zero impact to traffic and/or business access by closing it off as long as the cross streets remain open. “Take State Street, it’s faster” said no one ever. This betters the community in every way. If the city can somehow manage the homeless issue with State, this will revitalize the area.

  10. “State Street will not be what it used to be” – sorry to be the one to tell you this, but State Street hasn’t been what it used to be in a long, long time. State Street has become a ghost town (even before COVID-19) with mom & pop shops being priced out by greedy landlords. It has also become overrun with homeless people that the city seems to want to do nothing about except put in partitions on benches so they can’t sleep there. I think turning it into a promenade can give it the fresh new look it’s needed for years.

  11. NOTYOUAGAIN – making it a promenade would make i “boring and monotonous?” How so? I think the contrary – shutting it off to traffic will make more space for businesses to get creative and offer more outdoor service and facilities. It would attract more people (as we’ve seen over the past few months) which in turn would drive away most of the more “gamey” homeless people that have been taking over State for decades. Make it a nice place and allow local businesses to get creative and thrive! Absolutely zero need for cars to drive up and down State. Keep it closed!

  12. Looks like the “gamey homeless” who no longer have easy picking on State Street, moved on to City Hall where they tried to pick a fight with city employees, according to Roger’s police report. Good to bring these issues right into the halls of power and share up close what the rest of the community has had to deal with for far too long. Parking them permanently in City Hall is okay by me. 20 years of poor city stewardship built this problem; now they own it.

  13. The city budget needs to be reserve engineered: what amount of tax dollar generation do city operations need to generate, from what sources. How does any new development support the hard numbers the city budget requires. Just wishes and self-interested beliefs of certain city council members is not enough to radically change the direction this city is going. Numbers please, game plan please, or this is just one more handout, boondoggle for the selected few at the expense of the many. Like all other city housing schemes. (Retail sales taxes, tourism taxes, property taxes – give us the projections – wins or losses in each category)

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