The city council today will receive an update on the State Street Master Plan, a long-term visioning document for the next 30 to 50 years concerning the revitalization of downtown.
The council will meet in its chambers at city hall, 735 Anacapa St., starting at 2 p.m.
Staff is recommending that the council receive an update on the work of the State Street Advisory Committee and the State Street Master Plan consultant selection process.
Following that process, staff recommends that the council award a contract for consulting services to MIG, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $709,156 and approve extra expenditures up to $70,915 as a contingency for future planning efforts, including additional outreach, California Environmental Quality Act review and unforeseen costs.
The downtown revitalization effort called for in the Master Plan will focus on the State Street area from Anacapa to Chapala streets and State Street from Sola Street to the Highway 101 underpass.
The plan “will look holistically at various challenges and opportunities for downtown Santa Barbara and present an urban design framework and implementation plan that, once completed, can be translated into future capital improvement projects in the corridor,” staff wrote in their report to the council.
“Downtown Santa Barbara can be reimagined to focus on people, in turn creating a thriving public space,” staff said. “This Master Plan builds on the momentum of the eight-block State Street closure driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and will identify opportunities and constraints to transform the right-of-way into a vital urban place for all to enjoy.
“This plan will put community engagement at the forefront in order to shape a vibrant Santa Barbara downtown for generations to come.”
The contract for consulting services includes a community engagement plan; technical studies on transportation, stormwater management, and utilities; an urban design framework; and an implementation plan with cost estimates, phasing and ongoing maintenance and operations.
The idea of turning State Street into a pedestrian-oriented, shopper-friendly street is not new in Santa Barbara, staff said, noting that it dates all the way back to the city’s original 1964 General Plan.
Over the years, the city has taken steps to create and expand a landscaped drive-through State Street pedestrian plaza.
Those efforts continue today.
Last July, the council appointed 17 members to the State Street Advisory Committee: three council members, one planning commissioner, one historic landmarks commissioner, 10 community members or business owners and two alternates.
The committee was tasked with providing input and recommendations on key design elements, potential areas of concern, the engagement plan and, ultimately, making a recommendation about the master plan to the council.
The State Street Advisory Committee will continue to hold regularly scheduled public meetings in addition to holding workshops, community events and charrettes.
Staff will also seek input and guidance on the urban design framework plan from the advisory committee, Historic Landmarks Commission, Planning Commission and City Council within the next 12 months.
The contract identifies completing the State Street Master Plan within 16 to 18 months of the project kickoff, with an anticipated completion date of December 2023.
“For decades, the City of Santa Barbara has recognized the importance of a walkable downtown, and a reassessment of streets and downtown public spaces is essential,” staff said.
“Although vacant storefronts and other issues existed downtown prior to COVID-19, the pandemic compelled the city to test the temporary closure of State Street to vehicles and allow businesses to operate outdoors.
“Largely successful, the temporary closure continues to prove that encouraging economic development, activating public space and rethinking street design is not only desirable, but critical for downtown Santa Barbara to stay relevant.”
In other business, staff is recommending that the council receive a presentation and public comment submitted on the Public Review Draft 2023 Housing Element, hold a discussion and provide feedback to staff.
On March 29, the council initiated a General Plan Amendment to update the Housing Element in compliance with state law.
During the past three months, long-range planning staff, with technical assistance from BAE Urban Economics, planning interns from UCSB and two Planning Commission members, prepared a Public Review Draft 2023 Housing Element to meet all statutory requirements of State Housing Element Law.
The public review draft Housing Element was released on July 5. This is the first of several drafts that will be prepared of the 2023 Housing Element.
State law mandates that prior to submission of the first draft to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), the city must make the draft available for public comment for 30 days and, if any comments are received, take at least 10 business days to consider and incorporate public comments. This is planned to occur by mid-August.
The revised draft is then submitted to HCD for a 90-day review period. After receiving HCD’s comments, the city can revise and adopt the draft or adopt the draft with no changes. Finally, the city must submit the adopted Housing Element to HCD for certification by Feb. 15.