SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The upbeat reaction about the hastily created downtown Santa Barbara promenade is part of the reason it will be around for at least the mid part of 2021, and likely beyond.
The design has fallen under a set of guidelines that have been evolving.
The idea came as a response to the economic crash when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But the promenade never went through the intense scrutiny for which Santa Barbara is known.
The city has been lenient and supportive at the same time when it comes to parklets, patios, lightings, landscaping, structural designs, colors and use of space. Restaurants have mainly been the users.
Retail has chosen to stay within existing walls, and not go out in the streets except in a few locations where some racks might be along the sidewalk. Recently some retail owners have also participated in the street marketplace which is on the calendar on Thursday nights until December 17.
The city began allowing the outside dining area, and other features of the promenade in May. The next 'checkpoint' on how it is working out is later this month. It will be evaluated again in March.
Longer ranging block-by-block designs are also under review. They are featured in a presentation posted on the corner of State Street at Canon Perdido. It is a collaborative effort with the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Santa Barbara Downtown Organization Director Robin Elander says, "there's a lot of good collaboration and people are pushing the envelope in terms of what's possible."
The emergency ordinance has given businesses a chance to try concepts in a real-life experience. Normally presentations would come in with examples and data from other cities.
Elander said, "the emergency allowed for some possibilities. A different way of seeing some things so it can be tested out and see the benefit that we found with outdoor dining."
In the next month the public is going to be asked for comments on the promenade future, to look at ideas such as new housing, shopping and entertainment combinations and get their suggestions to decision makers.
Ultimately Elander says it would help, "to build a visioning statement as to what the future of downtown can look like. They are developing a survey that the community can tell us what is important to see."
For now, Elander says if you want to help local businesses get through the pandemic one idea is, "buying gift cards now that last you a maybe few months."
For those who are shopping, she says, "you can purchase things on line or pick them up in person so it is a really great way to stay safe if you want to and shop from home," said Elander.
Tuesday the holiday tree will be lifted into place on State and Victoria streets. It will be covered in white lights and lit up this week.
The annual holiday parade will not be taking place this year. It would have been held Friday night and draw thousands of people.
For more information on the State Street promenade, click here.