Just about everyone who spoke at the Target meeting on Monday started out by saying, “I’m really glad a Target store is coming to Santa Barbara, but …” Then, concerns about street snarl-ups, traffic tangles, intersection impasses, exit imbroglios, and parking perdition were expressed. John Dewes, from Target headquarters in Minnesota, had a response to most questions, assuring the 32 people at Hope School Auditorium that his corporate managers were even more concerned than they that the store succeed without any hitch to the community.
City traffic engineer Derrick Bailey answered most congestion questions, explaining that Public Works could modify the traffic signals and sequence of movements at the intersection “to a more efficient pattern which will result in shorter queue lengths and less delay.” Though Target was not required to make any changes, because the new retail store, which occupies an old retail space, meets zoning rules, the corporation was receptive to “suggested changes to the adjacent streets to improve traffic flow, safety, and site access,” Bailey said.
At the meeting, he described a shorter left-turn lane on La Cumbre opposite Target that would provide space for a turn-pocket (headed south) to give shoppers access to the parking lot, helped by a wider driveway. Broader aprons on State would allow more visibility around the bus pocket, he said. But those attending were unconvinced, and doubtful questions and statements flowed. Residents were relieved, however, that Target would be softening the “bunker” look of the former Galleria with large windows on the second floor, neutral paint, and landscaping.
One resident worried that, as at Chick-fil-A at noon, the line to park could extend into the street. Bailey shared that concern, as well as that of insufficient parking circulation in the lot, but both the site configuration and the grandfathering of the retail space precluded a requirement for solutions. According to Dewes, for a small Target like this one, half the parking lot would be occupied at a time, and shoppers were likely to leave after 20 minutes. Bailey’s hope was that people would have figured out alternate ways to the store by the time Christmas rolled around.
The meeting was convened by City Councilmember Eric Friedman, whose constituents were vocally concerned. Target was still scouting properties in the area, Dewes said, hoping to be able to make a business deal, as it had on the Galleria spot.