Despite the recent closure-or consolidation-of certain high-profile retailers on State Street, Chamber of Commerce chief Steve Cushman said the number of downtown vacancies is diminishing. Sixty days ago, Cushman said 36 of 405 downtown storefronts were vacant. Two weeks ago, by comparison, there were only 25, he said. Of those, three of the closed storefronts were part of the Blue Bee empire. A Blue Bee spokesperson explained the company was consolidating its operations into just three storefronts, as opposed to six.
With Santa Barbara city bed tax and sales tax revenues continuing their downhill slide, City Hall number crunchers are bracing for budget cuts $2 million to $3 million deeper than initially anticipated for the coming year. If the worst comes to pass, the new mayor and council could find themselves facing a $9 million shortfall for 2010. The bed taxes collected by hotels and motels in November were 12 percent lower than those collected the previous November. Likewise sales tax revenues for the quarter ending last September were down 17 percent, marking the seventh consecutive drop.