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14 meetings later, more work is still ahead for the remodel of De la Guerra Plaza

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The center of Santa Barbara is not going to be redesigned without many opinions, meetings, hours of work and emotions.

That all began in 2019 and while many steps have been taken to design something more functional in De la Guerra Plaza for the times we live in, there's a strong case being made for just fixing what is there, saving money and avoid a facelift.

An estimated 14 meetings have taken place, so far.

The current plans include removing any area for cars, taking out the lawn and adding in a hardscape, a water feature such as a bubbler, and building a performance area.

There would also be a new design for the Anacapa St. side of Santa Barbara City Hall. That, however, was criticized for not having a new ramp for handicap access. There is one on the De la Guerra side.

Mayor Randy Rowse says he wants the plaza to have multiple uses and expects to see a design that reflects that.  

It will be months before the current project drawings will be finalized for a presentation to the city council.

Some members of the public warned the Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission at the last meeting that the plaza plans in place would  be a wrong redesign.  The bubbling up water was one of the most criticized elements, along with the location of the bathrooms and the surface designs to replace the grass.

Commissioner Ed Lenvik said the project as he sees it is, "way, way overdone.  It is not appropriate for Santa Barbara.  I am extremely disappointed."

To date, the commission says it has not been able to discuss the design plans with the Santa Barbara News-Press which has the historic building on the south end of the plaza.

Old Spanish Days has been involved in the review and comments because of its traditional use of the plaza during Fiesta. That involves a performance area and vendor booths.

The plaza is bordered by a variety of businesses, some that have access gates for the public to enter into patios instead of just the front doors on State St.

More work on the project is now taking place before it comes back to the commission and eventually removes forward to the full city council for a vote on the design and funding.

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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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