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After thousands revive De la Guerra Plaza for Fiesta, Santa Barbara looks at new ideas and uses

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The center of Santa Barbara's downtown, De la Guerra Plaza, was at maximum capacity during Old Spanish Days last week.

Now it is empty of people. Just like it had been for months before Fiesta.

The plaza's legendary spot in the city has fallen from the radar as a place to see events, enjoy lunch, sit on benches and hear musicians strumming some songs.

The most recent meeting of the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) in Santa Barbara showed the frustration planners and designers are having over what to do next.

There are drawings for a concept to eliminate cars, level the surface, remove the grass and add a performance area. There is also a concept for a "bubbler" water feature.

Some members have argued the grass needs to stay for the element of comfort and a cooling feature compared to a hard scape look.

The plaza has years of history where the community has come together, but in modern times it has become unused expect for the Fiesta mercado and community rallies.

The city would like to see it have a revival with areas to eat, mingle with friends, see some entertainment and be a beautiful compliment to the site. It is bordered by come of the city's most legendary buildings, City Hall, the Santa Barbara News-Press, the Casa de la Guerra property and the El Paseo.

The plaza is also in a broader conversation to be part of the big picture design plans for State Street nearby and the changes taking place there in the coming years.

There have also been months of community outreach and public comments on the future of the plaza with numerous ideas from residents about what they want to see.

Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse said, "I would like to see a very usable, programmable plaza. I would like to see it all at one level hardscape, events come and events go that we don't do this to whatever grass there was."  The Mayor referred to the dead grass in the plaza these days.

At the HLC meeting, Councilmember Kristen Sneddon said, the members need to "be very specific  so that we this generation, older and young, can be the ones to actually see this realized."

Article Topic Follows: Local Politics
De la Guerra plaza
Santa Barbara

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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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