Close to 30 storefront vacancies, problems with permitting and addressing the homeless. These are just some of the issues impacting state street.
Community leaders are business influencers held a community meeting Thursday to brainstorm ideas.
The World Business Academy, a local non-profit think tank, just launched a new task force. So new it doesn’t even have a name but their mission is clear.
“The fight for State Street is the fight for Santa Barbara,” said Amy Cooper, Owner of Plum Goods.
The problems facing State Street are well documented.
“The bottom line is that there are 27 empty stores today and that looks more like Detroit then the crown jewel of the Central Coast,” said Rinaldo Brutoco, President and Founder of the World Business Academy.
However, the solutions are harder to come by.
“This is about who in the community wants to take a stake on this,” said Brutoco.
Cooper is heading up the task force aimed at addressing the current climate on this once thriving street.
“The point of this task force is to try and find all the greatest brains and minds and people who’ve been working on all these issues including of course homelessness, vacancies, change in retail, all of the different issues that we want to work on including having a really vibrant downtown,” sand Cooper.
For the Plum Goods Owner, the issues extend beyond retail and affect the community as a whole.
“We’re not the only city facing these problems, other cities are doing this successfully so let’s let’s look at them, borrow from them and implement something in our town that works,” said Cooper.
That may include borrowing successful ideas from Palm Springs and Santa Monica.
“What they did is create a weekly event of live music, art, food for locals and families and everybody came down and then the tourists came as well,” said Cooper, referencing what has been done in Palm Springs.
“Why not cut off traffic for 10 blocks from Arlington down to the pier and only have electric buses and it would be like a pedestrian mall in Santa Monica Third Street,” said Brutoco.
The World Business Academy’s President says citizens need to rise up and co-create the future they want, rather than the one they default into by not taking action.
“On that homeless issue alone, we can just succeed in getting people to realize it’s a citywide problem. It doesn’t just go away if you chase them from one block to another,” said Brutoco.
Along with adding street entertainment and festivals, other suggestions centered around lowering rent and upping downtown housing.