In a special meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, the Santa Barbara City Council will receive a presentation from the Santa Barbara Chapter of American Institute of Architects on the lessons learned through the 2020 Community Design Charrette.
The purpose of the charrette was to explore strategies and opportunities to reimagine Downtown Santa Barbara through housing, enhancements to the promenade, paseos, open spaces and public private partnerships.
It was held during the summer of 2020 in response to the critical need for housing, a rise of vacant buildings and the creation of the State Street promenade.
The project included video meetings, distanced meetings on the street, a survey on the desirability of living downtown with almost 5,000 responses, 16 volunteer design teams made up of 160 participants and many meetings of architects, landscape architects, engineers, artists, event planners, interior designers, students and other local experts.
The teams were asked to provide the following: “solutions for the incorporation of housing through adaptive reuse of existing buildings and new buildings at opportunity sites such as open parking lots, solutions for the outdoor spaces within the designated two-block area including State Street (i.e. 400 block), detailed project statistics to demonstrate the feasibility and development potential and recommendations about regulatory adjustments to incentivize the new vision for housing and open space,” according to the staff report.
According to the survey that included 5,000 participants, 77% of whom said they currently reside in Santa Barbara, around 84% of them said they want to see State Street closed to all vehicular traffic permanently.
Around 56% supported the idea of the street being shared by pedestrians and cyclists, with 35% supporting pedestrians only on the street. Approximately 64% of people said there should be more housing in the downtown State Street area, and 57% of them said they’d like to see small, one to two bedroom rental apartments there.
When asked about building heights, 54% of people said they think the appropriate height for buildings downtown is three stories, rather than four, five or higher.
In addition, 63% said that if they could live downtown, they’d need a car near their home, and 91% said they would prefer to pay additional for a parking space in their building.
The special meeting will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, and can be viewed in English and Spanish on City TV Channel 18 or streamed live at www.SantaBarbaraCA.gov/CAP.