I would like to share with the readers about a recent experience I had walking down State Street in the evening.
A week or so prior to Thanksgiving a gentleman friend and I had dinner at Arigato, located in the 1200 block of State Street.
We finished our dinner around 8 p.m. and decided to take a walk down State Street to the Red Piano. It was early enough that some of the other restaurants and bars were still open so there was some activity and lights on. We left the Red Piano around 10 p.m. and started walking up State Street to the 1100 block, where our car was parked. The walk back up State Street was very different than the walk down.
Red Piano is located in the 500 block of State Street. From the 500 block to the 700 block, there were still some bars open so there was lighting and activity. Once we hit the 800 block — and continuing up to the 1100 block — most of the businesses were closed and/or the buildings were vacant. This caused little to no lighting for any one walking on the sidewalk or the street.
We also encountered many homeless individuals lying or sitting in almost every doorway in each of the buildings. In several instances, we were asked for money. Both of us felt very uncomfortable and not safe. We commented on how we felt vulnerable and would never want to take this walk again.
I have lived in Santa Barbara since 1977. State Street used to be this lively safe area with great shopping, restaurants and a sense of community. The stroll down State Street was filled with clothing stores, jewelry stores, ice cream shops, and one could always do window shopping when walking in the evening. Now State Street has become a dirty, run down, dark, vacant and unsafe area taken over by the homeless.
When will law-abiding, taxpaying residents get our beautiful city back again?
Maybe if Santa Barbara City Council members took this walk the way I did, they might have a different attitude about what needs to be done to keep us safe.