Downtown business leaders demanded that the Santa Barbara City Council increase police presence on State Street in response to growing concern by merchants that young, aggressive “vagrants” are chasing shoppers and tourists away. In a letter mailed 6/4, the Downtown Organization warned councilmembers that unless State Street becomes more welcoming, tourists and residents would take their discretionary dollars elsewhere. The Downtown Organization seeks to distinguish between “the truly needy” homeless and those who are “homeless by choice.” The letter was mailed shortly before the council adopted a final budget. The demand for police services is sufficiently intense throughout the city that no commitment was forthcoming from the council.


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