Negotiations on Paseo Nuevo renovations were approved Tuesday by the Santa Barbara City Council.
Though renovation of the mall was granted final approval by the Historic Landmarks Commission on Nov. 14 and would have proceeded without the City Council’s approval, Tuesday’s unanimous vote opens an opportunity for the city and Paseo Nuevo Owners LLC to make a deal on several aspects of the Paseo Nuevo Renovation Project.
The agreement will involve Paseo Nuevo Owners getting certain assurances from the city regarding the property, in exchange for the city’s enhanced ability to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the mall.
The two parties will negotiate in accordance with a list of terms, which states that Paseo Nuevo Owners will invest at least $20 million into the renovation and take on certain costs, such as the mall’s two parking structures and trash and recycling services, which are currently paid for by the city. The terms also demand that mall work be completed in four years while tenant improvement work be completed in five years.
The renovations include such improvements as decorative paving, decorative lighting, new landscaping, a decorative art piece and a fire pit.
First District Councilman Jason Dominguez agreed that the mall needs improvements but voiced concern about the fairness of subsidizing one particular section of State Street over all the others.
He also questioned the price the city will pay for the project and exactly what changes its money will go toward.
“There’s some tenant improvements that were just not made, or … mall improvements that should’ve been made over the course of the years that weren’t made and I don’t think the city should be responsible for paying for those,” he said.
Second District Councilman Randy Rowse said the mall needs the proposed renovations, which should be done “sooner than later.”
“In my opinion, I don’t think we have the luxury of having more and more years and time and more and more outreach. We’ve done a lot of outreach. … If we have a willing partner-slash-tenant to go forward and make this kind of investment we should jump in as well,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tempore Eric Friedman concurred with Mr. Rowse on the mall needing refurbishing and said renovation would answer the question, “What are you doing to invest in downtown today?”
In other business Tuesday, the council directed staff to keep developing permanent regulations for shared scooter programs and make further amendments to Chapter 10.53, which was added to the Santa Barbara Municipal Code after Lime surprised Santa Barbara last year by deploying 150 motorized scooters within the city.
According to findings presented Tuesday by parking resources specialist Sarah Clark, regulation of scooter share programs would have to address mechanical issues, including loose handlebars and the inability to do turn signals, and behavioral problems such as people riding the scooters on sidewalks.
Though the council unanimously accepted the report, Mr. Rowse was less than enthusiastic on developing regulations for scooter share programs and expressed support for temporarily banning them.
Disbelieving the idea that scooter share programs are a new way to meet the city’s transportation needs, Mr. Rowse called them merely “a fun thing” and “the launch of a business.”
“I really don’t want to see our staff spending a whole bunch more time and money on this until this is a whole different animal,” he said.