On Friday, May 22, 2020 in response to the pandemic and public health restrictions, the City closed Downtown State Street to cars and opened the street to pedestrians, shoppers and outdoor dining to allow residents to enjoy downtown’s newly created open space.
Due to the on-going public health orders Council extended the term of emergency economic recovery ordinance which allows for the temporary outdoor dining uses until March 8, 2022. In addition, due to the success of the newly created State Street Promenade the City Council established a State Street Subcommittee to oversee a public outreach effort to evaluate the future of downtown State Street. The State Street Subcommittee met regularly over the fall of 2020 and into early 2021 to oversee the outreach/visioning effort for the future of downtown State Street.
The State Street Subcommittee submitted a number of recommendations to the City Council to move the Downtown State Street initiative forward. That staff report and attachment can be found HERE.
Next Steps in the future of downtown State Street
One of the recommendations Council approved was the formation of an Advisory Committee to oversee the production of a Downtown State Street Area Master Plan. The main focus of the Master Plan is to conceptualize Downtown State Street corridor and adjacent city blocks. The Master Plan will be a holistic and long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout of the area and an action plan to create. The proposed area of the Master Plan is from the freeway to Sola Street, Chapala to Anacapa Streets. It is anticipated that the Downtown State Street Area Master Plan will evaluate connectivity and synergy that the commercials areas of the Funk Zone and waterfront can be enhanced. Likewise, the Master Plan will also take into account connectivity of the surrounding downtown neighborhoods. The goal to include this broader area is to ensure that other areas of the downtown core are addressed in the Master Plan.
The City will be seeking interested community members who would like to submit an application for consideration to join the Downtown State Street Area Master Plan Advisory Committee.
The State Street Subcommittee will evaluate all of the feedback generated from the visioning outreach and resident survey to create a vision statement that defines the future of Downtown State Street for the City Council’s adoption. Based on that outcome staff will have the direction of how to proceed going forward.
Upcoming Changes to Downtown State Street
The initial closure of Downtown State Street was initially a temporary installation prior to Memorial Day weekend meant to last through Labor Day weekend. However, recognizing the temporary condition has been extended for an interim period of time the Council authorized enhancing the traffic control devices and adding lighting to the street. The enhancements will provide improved safety and direction to cyclists, pedestrians and cross street traffic. The additionally lighting will improve the look and feel to those section of the street that have less outdoor dining. The enhancements will be installed by the end of 2020.
In addition, the American Institute of Architectures (AIA) Santa Barbara Chapter conducted a design charrette involving over 160 professionals over the summer to explore design concepts for the State Street corridor and downtown to add to the civic discussion and policy analysis related to downtown housing and the future of State Street. The design concepts produced by the AIA SB Chapter can be accessed HERE.