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Summertime and a new look to upper downtown in Santa Barbara should bolster the businesses there

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Three big components are coming together in the next week that could have positive economic implications in downtown Santa Barbara. They include the arrival of summer, the return of sunshine and the repaving and striping on State Street from Victoria to Sola Streets.

The forecasters see the end of the hours-long overcast daily and the return of sunshine with temperatures staying in the 70's. Most business owners said the sun makes a major difference in the outlook for customers to want to come out, shop, eat and stay out later in business areas.

The start of summer is on the way in the next week along with the Summer Solstice Parade which is a full weekend of events on Santa Barbara Street and at Alameda Park.

This week, 1300 State Street and the first block of west Victoria Street have seen repaving, restriping and a new design to fit two way traffic, bikes and pedestrians. It is expected to bring a renewed vitality to the area which has restaurants, art galleries and other retail stores.

One restaurant that lost a parklet in the remodeling, Opal, will be adding 10 sidewalk dining seats.

City workers were doing some sidewalk measuring in the area Thursday morning.

"I think it looks beautiful. It looks great, I would like it to stay closed though.  I don't know exactly what the plan is with that," said Downtown resident Brad Mueller.

Prior to the return of parallel parking, drivers coming down the 1300 block of State Street would park head on to the curb. Now that it's been reconfigured, there's two lanes of traffic and you can no longer walk freely in the middle of the street.

Some school kids on bikes said they were looking both ways because they've had some close calls.

 Lila Overton said, "on these bike lanes, we like to go safe because we almost got hit by a car like a couple of seconds ago. We were going straight ahead and they were going this way and they yelled at us and got mad."

The issue of bikes in this  multiple block area continues to be a top concern.   It's an issue the city has worked on with new designated lanes.

Felipe Gonzalez was walking his dog downtown and said, "you know, when they put the bike lanes in, I think that kind of helped out a lot. You know, the ones down the middle of the street."

The shared spaces such as walking in the promenade street area, are not favored by some people who say it's a safety issue.

Carina Figueroa works downtown and stopped on State and Victoria saying she is not interested in walking in the open areas of the street. "I could, but I don't like the bikes. They're going really fast. You know, the electric bikes. I don't like that," she said. She also she thinks streets with one parklet should be opened up and the tables should be on the sidewalks.

Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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