My Dear Santa Barbara,

I’ve watched the destruction of small business in this town for 20 of the 30 years that I’ve lived here, with no remarkable intervention from city planners, architectural board of review, council members, mayors, or anyone, except, maybe, the Pearl Chase Society.

What is the vision here?

Where is the protection for one of the most lovely cities in America?

Often compared in beauty to the French Riviera, we are now full steam ahead on blocking those views at every turn with horrible AUD (Average Unit-size Density) projects, whose architecture compares to a Phoenix outlet mall.

Where is the class? Where is the rarefied feeling I used to know? And who are these people in charge allowing the demise of this charm?

Every property owner in this town should be raising hell — because your best investment, that you’ve worked so hard for (in most cases), is being devalued by the minute. The once thriving and interesting downtown is a retail wasteland. It was Glen Corning, the owner of Random, whose letter to the Independent that finally urged me to write.

The intrinsic value here is being destroyed.

Wake up residents! Get up off of your butts, get your head out of your electronic devices, and look around you.

A 7-Eleven is going in where the Verizon store destroyed one of the most iconic corners on State Street. Really? This is our goal? A 7-Eleven?? Is this all we can attract now?

The City of Santa Barbara must step in to help and guide small business owners back onto State Street, or we are doomed. They need to get involved in city permitting that often cripples new business people with unwarranted demands. They must help them get through Health Department issues, negotiate rent pricing — incentivize! Right now, the process just demoralizes. Meanwhile, large developers breeze through these processes, allowing four stories-plus, and the most mundane, cheap-looking architecture I’ve ever seen.

Just like Glen Corning said — you think it’s bad now? Wait until the next, inevitable economic downturn.

It is shameful

Find out how you can get involved — is one group that I know of, and SB Romantics is another.

Make demands of your government! It’s their job. And, it’s your life.


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