The Fairview Shopping Center is enjoying none of the malaise that affects other brick-and-mortar shops, with a Dollar Store coming in to replace Radio Shack and an Ace Hardware replacing OSH. That could explain the stiff arm the center’s manager, Michael Prochelo, is giving nearby residents who want him to add sidewalks and planters. About 35 residents, many from Encina Royale, staged a picket around the center on Friday afternoon, with passing drivers honking their support.
Prochelo, who said he manages the center for several families that own the property, didn’t believe the residents were traffic engineers or had the authority to advise on the need for sidewalks. If the city told him to do so, however, he’d have to, he said.
Several of the protesters said they cross Fairview daily on the short walk from Encina Royale, some using walkers to move through the parking area. “We spend thousands of dollars at the shopping center,” said David Lampert, who has lived at Encina Royale for six years and believes the shopping center management should listen to its customers. Steve George, a rally organizer who lives at Encina Royale, praised the shopping center for its unique stores, saying it was an attraction for people moving to the community built for adults of 55 years and older. He echoed Lampert’s feeling that as customers, management should listen to them.
The planters or some kind of barrier was needed at the sidewalk facing Encina Road near the movie theater, the Encina Royale residents said. Cars frequently mistake the pavers in the theater plaza for a roadway, and chips in the concrete show the times cars have struck the curb.
The protesters also contend that drivers take a shortcut through the 76 station on the corner and into the Fairview center, surprising pedestrians and cyclists, and that some separation of the driveways is needed. For rally organizer Judi Shor, the danger to pedestrians includes the kids who pass through the shopping center on their way to and from school after crossing from Old Town using the Fairview overpass sidewalk.
The City of Goleta has added a crosswalk for Calle Real to its wish list, a $297,500 Measure A request that is going to the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments for approval, said James Winslow, a city engineer. Pedestrians would activate a pair of beacons over the traffic lanes to alert drivers to stop. The total project cost is $350,000, with the balance to come from city funds, said Winslow.
Shor said a couple of city staffers dropped by to show their support for their efforts and that Councilmember Roger Aceves drove by and honked his support. Councilmember Kyle Richards was there talking with residents about their concerns. Both Aceves and Richards didn’t think the city had any leverage over the center to require sidewalks without any permit-requiring activity taking place.