A map of Coast Village Road.
Caring for Coast Village Road
What to Do about Santa Barbara’s Slice of Montecito; Plus News from Ty Warner’s Hotels
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Coast Village Road feels like a misunderstood stepchild. First of all, nobody knows where it is, and worse, even though it throws a lot of money around, it feels like it doesn’t get any attention. The lucrative five-block retail strip looks and feels like Montecito, but it is, in reality, part of the City of Santa Barbara. How could that be?
Legend has it that back in the 1960s, a newly formed Montecito Sanitary District was slow to bring sewers to Coast Village Road (CVR), and merchants, sick of l’eau de septic driving away customers, sought city sewers through annexation. What may have ultimately been flushed down the toilet was Montecito cityhood. To successfully incorporate and survive unseen economic swings, cities count on business diversity. Without CVR, Montecito is left with three hotels and a very short cityhood stick.
Only seven-tenths of a mile long, the Coast Village Corridor (CVR and Coast Village Circle) is primarily a commercial zone sprinkled with an array of profitable businesses, shops, jewelry stores, spas, salons, sundry, restaurants, banks, professional offices, residential condos, and apartments - all serviced by the City of Santa Barbara. In return, the city receives a share of the corridor’s tax revenue.
By J'Amy Brown
Helen Schneider (left) and Jan Atkins from the Coast Village Business Association.
Given that there are two hotels (read: bed tax), more than 500 businesses (read: sales tax to the tune of $677,655 in 2006), and residential condos, commercial buildings, and apartment complexes (read: property tax), Coast Village Road is a cash cow in anybody’s book. But the CVR business community, says one leader, feels more like a cow put out to pasture.
“We’re in a catch-22 on Coast Village Road,” says Jan Atkins, who serves on the board of directors for the 100-plus-member Coast Village Business Association. “We are an island from the city.”
The association has been pursuing street upgrades similar those implemented on lower State Street. However, because of a radius limit, CVR does not qualify for downtown redevelopment agency funds used for the State Street upgrades. “Our village needs hundreds and thousands of dollars to upgrades sidewalks, street lighting, and landscapes. Coast Village has its own village atmosphere and quality. It is low key, but we need improvements to maintain a high-quality low key,” Atkins said.
She said the all-volunteer business association was set up to operate as chamber of commerce, promoting business, holidays, and mixers. However, she adds, while political noisemaking was not in their original mission, they do not plan to go quietly to the scullery like the stepchild Cinderella.
With three seats on the city council up for election in November 2007, the Coast Village Business Association is showing up to make sure politicians hear their message. In addition to city participation in infrastructure improvements, the CVBA quest-list includes continued adequate policing, more city council attention, and solutions to traffic problems.
By J'Amy Brown
Brian Barnwell at his reelection kick-off.