Editor’s note: Local organization Cars Are Basic sent this letter to Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse and the Santa Barbara City Council, and the writer emailed the letter to the Voices section.
Mayor Rowse and Council
City of Santa Barbara
Re: De la Guerra Plaza & Street
As the city is aware, CAB has repeatedly opposed changes to De la Guerra Plaza and De la Guerra Street from State Street east to Anacapa.
When this was first proposed, local businesses circulated a petition opposing changes to the Plaza and/or closing the street. CAB was shown the outcomes, and all but one business opposed any changes or closing of the plaza/street.
As a result of the petition, the head of the Downtown Organization at the time (Marshall Rose) opposed any changes. The DO later hired a director who had extensive experience with the city of Pasadena. She made the point that Pasadena had attempted closing and narrowing of streets with the outcome of hurting city center business.
Pasadena, with her direction, re-opened streets and widened streets that had been narrowed.
When Mr. Harris was hired by the city of Santa Barbara to force the closing of the plaza and/or street, she strongly opposed it. The same Mr. Harris has for years in opposition to businesses would continue to press what the businesses did not want.
After a disagreeable and loud discussion with former Councilman Hart (now Assemblyman), she quit and left Santa Barbara.
The next DO director was against this continuing bullying of the city for this plan. She made it clear the businesses did not want it, and she backed the previous director’s position. Again after being disagreeable, the city staff was able to force her out as director, and she resigned.
CAB has requested repeatedly for the city of Santa Barbara to report the 40-year outcome of the MIG State Street narrowing. The response by the city and various mayors and councils has been to ignore the requests.
Unless CAB has missed a point, this is part of the long-term closing of State Street, using the same philosophy presented by MIG. CAB asks why would the council continue with a 40-year failure and use a company that designed this failure?
We have watched 25 years of projects that were supposed to increase the economic viability of Old Town Santa Barbara and failed. CAB has watched traffic management continue to convince city councils to narrow streets for bike paths that failed.
The latest game of “just give it time it will work” are parklets. The health of Old Town State Street would be the same rebound that has Goleta thriving with more business and people who now travel from Santa Barbara to buy and do business in Goleta.
With the long term State Street narrowing- social experiment failure, the petition against the closing of the Plaza/Street, three directors of the Downtown Organization opposing this, and repeated calls by the general public to open State Street and keep the plaza as it is, you are urged to defeat this plan.
CAB request is rational and backed by fact.
Please add this comment to the Public Record.
On behalf of the board and members,