Deep cleaning of the sidewalks lining both sides of the downtown pedestrian promenade will begin this week, as well as the installation of additional lighting on lower State Street and adjoining side streets, city officials said.
“Significantly increased” funding for the promenade’s cleanup and maintenance was inserted into the new fiscal year budget, which began July 1, according to Sarah Clark, the city’s downtown plaza and parking manager. The cleanup will include litter pickup and pressure washing along the sidewalks.
“We’re going to have pressure washing every week instead of once a month,” Ms. Clark said in an interview Thursday. “It’s going to make a big difference.”
In addition, plans call for pressure washing of the street around the outdoor dining parklets on a quarterly basis, she said.
The increased funding will pay for additional hourly maintenance by staffers, she said. “There will be more presence on the street during the day, roaming and responding to things on the street.”
City officials also plan to increase security downtown by stringing more decorative lights between light posts on the corners of each block, Ms. Clark said, including light posts that don’t currently have them in the 400 block of State Street and along the so-called “zero blocks” between State and Chapala and State and Anacapa.
“We went out at night and looked at some darker spots,” she said. “There’s nothing there right now.”
All told, there will be 39 new strings of lights on State Street and adjoining blocks, she said.
Mayor Randy Rowse outlined the city’s cleaning and lighting plans in an interview last week with the News-Press. He also said the city is busy recruiting a supplemental yet authoritative police presence dedicated to increasing public safety downtown, including dealing with skateboarders who ride down the middle of State Street and bicyclists, including those on high-powered electric bikes, who pose a risk to pedestrians.
He criticized the council’s ad hoc committee tasked with proposing solutions to promenade issues for failing to come up with specific, concrete “actionable” ideas, including the need for the parklets to become portable to deal with potential stormwater/flooding runoff and allow for the resumption of parades downtown, as well as the question of whether or not to impose parklet rent/usage fees and rules/regulations. He said the continued uncertainty surrounding such issues is unfair to both downtown restaurants and retail establishments.
“People totally agree on paying rent,” the mayor said. They just need to know how much.
“I’d like to see Public Works have the ability to provide for flood capability if it rains really hard,” Mayor Rowse said. “The parklets are blocking drainage. We have to be able to move them for flood and safety.”
The indecision on when to resume parades downtown “has gone on way too long,” he added. “We can’t just say we won’t have parades again. It’s not fair to the rest of the community.”
The parades are planned well in advance of the day they take place, and planners need some sort of guidance on how to proceed, Mayor Rowse said. “You can’t just spontaneously throw something together for the weekend.”