SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara City Council voted Tuesday to approve up to $250,000 in improvements to the city's temporary downtown promenade.
“It became a village center for everyone, and we’re trying to improve the experience there,” said Santa Barbara mayor Cathy Murillo, who called the project’s price tag “worth it.”
“Our priority right now as we move to sort of an ‘interim’ phase is to make sure that everyone can enjoy the promenade safely. And so that’s really what we’re looking at with these improvements,” said City Council member Meagan Harmon, who is also chair of the city’s State Street subcommittee.
New barriers that Harmon calls "aesthetically pleasing but also safer" will go up at intersections, blocking car traffic onto State Street while still allowing space for emergency vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.
The construction-style barriers and signs currently standing will be replaced.
Palm tree boxes that are beginning to wear down will be replaced with large pots or planters.
New paint on the ground will guide cyclists and pedestrians where to go as they travel down the promenade.
The city will also add string lights running parallel to the street, attached to lamp posts.
“It’s gonna get darker an hour earlier,” Downtown Santa Barbara Organization president Bob Stout said, referring to Daylight Saving Time ending the day after Halloween. “And let’s face it: we need light on State Street… And that’s just gonna be huge. Because it’s gonna light up this stretch.”
The $250,000 is being funded by Measure C, which in 2018 increased the city's sales tax by 1%.
“This is a great use of that, in my opinion, because what’s better than to try to help the infrastructure in the downtown corridor, which is pretty much the economic engine of downtown,” said Stout.
The promenade opened in May as an attempt to rejuvenate downtown businesses amid the pandemic-driven economic crisis.
Murillo says because the improvements are considered "interim," they don't need to be approved by the Historical Landmarks Commission.
Murillo also says many residents and businesses want to make the promenade permanent. City Council plans to discuss State Street's long-term future in December.