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Santa Maria moving forward with downtown revitalization plans

Main Street Santa Maria
Main Street in Santa Maria, near the Broadway intersection. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The City of Santa Maria continues to push forward with its long-running plan to revitalize the downtown area.

"There is still a vision to help downtown be a destination location," said Chuen Ng, Santa Maria Director of Community Development. "A place where people can come and go to a restaurant. It's a Saturday night place, so it's a mixture of new housing, new commercial, but most importantly, all of those gathering spaces."

City leaders have been working to reimagine the downtown area for more than two decades.

A Downtown Specific Plan and Streetscape Plan were both adopted within the last few years, providing leaders with a framework for future development.

While efforts to implement some of the ideas proposed in the plans have been slow, city leaders are continuously working towards the goal of improving the area.

"There's a lot behind the scenes," said Ng. "We're at the point in which we're working with potential developers to re-develop some sites in downtown, specifically some properties owned by the city."

Ng specifically pointed out the city is eyeing potential development on property located between Main and Cook Streets, adjacent to Broadway.

"We have regular meetings with some interested parties and it is a work in progress, but we hope to see something soon, many sticks off the ground in the near future," said Ng.

He added the leaders are also in frequent communication with Caltrans regarding potential changes to Broadway and Main Streets, which double as California Highways 135 and 166 respectively.

"Main and Broadway are owned by Caltrans, so any changes that we make to the streets, really require their collaboration, and ultimately, their approval, and we are having conversations with them on those proposed changes," said Ng.

Ng emphasized a key element to the revitalization of downtown is to create enhanced pedestrian access.

"The downtown area needs to be friendly for pedestrians, so that it's comfortable to be outside and a reduction in speed also means a reduction in outdoor noise, and in the end, we want it to be a comfortable inviting area," said Ng.

On Wednesday, the City's Downtown Revitalization Committee will meet online to discuss potential downtown streetscape crosswalk enhancements.

During the meeting, the committee will review several proposals presented and provide a recommendation to City staff.

"What this is, is artwork on the intersection itself, on the pavement to add interest to those intersections," said Ng. "Sometimes these can help these areas look a little more pedestrian friendly because they add visual interest and sometimes they help cars slow down."

The Santa Maria Downtown Revitalization Committee will meet online on Sept. 29, 2021 at 1:30 p.m.

Members of the public will be able to attend observe and participate in the meeting through an online Zoom meeting link.

For a link to the meeting, click here.

While no major project is imminent, Ng expressed he is optimistic about the future of Santa Maria.

"We have enough interest from potential developers where I'm confident we can see something get off the ground within the next several years," said Ng.

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. The city will never be able to re-vitalize downtown unless they make a clear, affordable path for business to invest in the old buildings.
    The city is chasing property tax and sales tax dollars from new development, so there is little incentive for them to help small business move into downtown.

    I have a business in downtown and it has been a long, difficult and expensive process just to do a very simple remodel. 2 year and $30k later I “almost” have a building permit for this basic remodel. Not many business people are going to be willing to make this investment in time and money.

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