Santa Barbara’s State Avenue Grasp Plan Enters Subsequent Part

The long-awaited, long-term plan for the revitalization of downtown Santa Barbara has now moved from an outreach and imaginative and prescient section to the preliminary design section — full with a catchy new title, Create State — in keeping with the planning staff, who offered a progress report back to the Metropolis Council on Tuesday.

Most of the updates had been centered on the outcomes of a widespread public outreach marketing campaign, which included greater than 100 occasions and public conferences from August via December 2022 and a group survey that metropolis employees stated had the best response fee of any challenge. The primary section of the challenge, which regarded on the present circumstances and took the heartbeat of what sort of downtown Santa Barbara locals needed, was “crucial side of this challenge,” in keeping with State Avenue Grasp Planner Tess Harris.

“We’re actually interested by restructuring a avenue right into a group area, so actually understanding what the group wants and needs are is de facto crucial to this general course of,” Harris stated.

To succeed in out to as many individuals as potential, town held a number of workshops at totally different occasions and areas, and used social media, native information, and promoting to unfold the phrase. The outcome: Practically 1,500 individuals attended and took part within the workshops, and greater than 5,700 people responded to the survey.

Councilmembers counseled their efforts in not solely assembly with downtown guests and enterprise house owners, but additionally going additional into areas which can be typically neglected of town processes, together with Our Girl of Guadalupe church on the Eastside, Foodland on the Westside, farmers’ markets, and different neighborhood conferences. 

“I’m actually, actually impressed with the group outreach,” Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez instructed the State Avenue planning staff. | Credit score: Ingrid Bostrom

Harris famous that town additionally made an effort to get enter from all age ranges, including that it was necessary to make downtown an area for everyone to really feel welcome, from ages 8 to 80.

“We thought it was actually necessary that youth had a voice on this preliminary planning effort, so we reached out to each college within the Santa Barbara Unified Faculty District,” she stated. The design staff visited Franklin Elementary Faculty, the place greater than 150 college students from grades 5-8 participated.

“I’m actually, actually impressed with the group outreach,” stated Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez, who recalled that in her time on the council she has by no means seen a metropolis challenge be so thorough in reaching out to the group. 

“I can attest that you just guys really went to the group and obtained the suggestions,” Gutierrez stated, retelling the story of getting calls from Eastside residents who weren’t accustomed to being requested for his or her opinions on metropolis issues. “They felt like they had been really seen.”

The work within the first section was a mixed effort between metropolis employees and out of doors contractors from MIG, a group of designers, planners, and engineers that focuses on city design with an emphasis on the atmosphere.

Matt Shawaker, city design director at MIG, broke down the outcomes of the research and surveys, giving the Metropolis Council a peek into what the group needed because the staff entered the subsequent “city design framework” stage. At the least one factor was clear from the group survey: Individuals like State Avenue closed to automobiles.

“Overwhelmingly, individuals needed to see it closed,” Shawaker stated.

In keeping with the survey, 79 % of contributors most well-liked the road closed to site visitors, a outcome that Shawaker stated reveals the shift in how individuals wish to use their downtown areas. He pointed to some different downtown areas — together with Pearl Avenue in Boulder, Colorado, and different pedestrian-oriented downtown areas in San Luis Obispo and Greenville, South Carolina — which emphasize household area, out of doors eating, combined makes use of (pedestrian and bicycles), native shops, and a mix of personal funding and tax assessments as funding sources.

In keeping with the planners, State Avenue is in a primary place to have a premier downtown area, with walkable blocks, historic character, and at the least 16 paseos that make exploring the downtown space distinctive, to not point out the climate that permits for occasions and out of doors actions year-round

Closing the road to site visitors through the pandemic allowed town to “see what using out of doors area may turn out to be,” Harris stated, “and there was an overwhelmingly optimistic response” in the neighborhood. “Perspective has shifted. Individuals wish to expertise their downtown areas in another way.”

The large query that is still is what to do with the bicycle-pedestrian scenario. Over the subsequent few months, as town takes the enter from the group to draft three potential design ideas, there’ll probably be a number of dialogue over learn how to come to a wholesome compromise.

“We’re going to have exhausting discussions forward of us, and we’re going to have debates and tradeoffs that we’re going to want to make, however that’s good planning. That’s what we wish to see in our group,” Harris stated. “We wish to have that wholesome debate in order that we will get to the absolute best answer for our downtown.”

Metropolis Employees and MIG will proceed with a gathering with the State Avenue Advisory Committee in February, adopted by extra group outreach in April. The staff expects to have three design ideas round Could, and town needs to be on observe to pick out a most well-liked design by August. After that, town could have a public draft ready within the fall, and council will likely be on observe to approve a closing design early 2024.

For up-to-date info on the Create State plan, go to the State Avenue Grasp Plan web page on town web site.

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