(Above photo: A Cabrillo Art Walk vendor demonstrates the logistics of unloading wares at the current waterfront.)
At first, plans to give the city’s waterfront a facelift seem to have suffered a serious set-back due to the rapidly rising cost of steel, concrete, and other construction materials. The merchants who make the waterfront their home let members of the Santa Barbara City Council know they weren’t happy about this. Under consideration are plans to improve the lighting, walkways, landscaping, and parking lots by the harbor. While plans remain-as does the $2.1 million in funding-the money seemingly would not go not go far enough. City staff disputed this claim, however, noting that the housing market slump has caused the cost of construction to lower. Meanwhile, the city approved a contract to rebuild the sidewalk running from Stearns Wharf to Calle Cesar Chavez. While everyone agreed the sidewalk was in need of repair, many of the Sunday arts and craft show vendors have complained that the new and improved sidewalk will include planter boxes that will make it much harder for them to load and unload their wares. From the city’s perspective, the complaints against the project stem more from the fact that affected people are irritated that the $2.1 million available for the project will only cover construction – not landscape maintenance.