SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's a risky change to close off the 400 block of State Street in Santa Barbara to extend the promenade one more block.
That's the assessment of first responders.
Fire and police leaders have told the State Street Advisory Committee that the block is vital to response times when units are in downtown and an emergency is in the waterfront or Funk Zone.
Some business owners in the 400 block wanted the closure to enjoy some of the foot traffic and public popularity other blocks in the vicinity have had since last year.
Santa Barbara Fire Marshal Ryan DiGuilio says a street closure in the area "would hamper our response times."
He said emergency responders can use lights and sirens and drive on the opposite side of the road if necessary but they need the physical road to do so.
Sgt. Mike Brown with the police department said the block is crucial. "If there was a major incident on one side of the freeway or the other, it would take us much longer to get to that incident if we don't have that main artery of the 400 block. God forbid if there is an incident such as an active shooter, every second is a life not every minute so that is really crucial to keep open for emergency traffic."
The city has looked at traffic circulation in the area that may be changed but no plans are in the works now to adjust the current traffic pattern other than improvements to the State Street underpass.
The project there would increase space for bikes and pedestrians.