Blackout Hits Downtown

Not long after a disgruntled group of downtown business owners launched a campaign to upgrade the city’s aging electric grid, Santa Barbara was hit with yet another blackout.

Thursday evening at around 6:40 p.m., 1,382 Southern California Edison customers lost power, many of them along the downtown corridor. The Paseo Nuevo shopping mall went dark, as did nearby restaurants and bars. Movie theaters passed out refund vouchers, firefighters rescued people stuck in elevators, and diners used their cell phone lights to carefully get back to their cars. Edison blamed the outage on an unspecified equipment failure. A spokesperson said the utility company “apologizes for the inconvenience.” Power was completely restored by 11:01 p.m.

Citing a string of recent blackouts that they say cost them revenue and put the public at risk, a group of merchants created a petition in December to get Edison to prioritize promised infrastructure upgrades along the commercial core. So far, 172 people have signed on. Edison said it’s working to pinpoint specific projects that will increase reliability in the area.

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