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Despite opposition from Jim Knell, the biggest property owner and landlord on State Street, the Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously to extend the assessments now imposed on downtown business to allow Downtown Santa Barbara to stay financially afloat into the future and keep hosting special events, such as 1st Thursdays, designed to draw people downtown.
Knell of Sima Corporation said he controls 500,000 square feet of retail and office space downtown from which no fewer than 300 merchants and business professionals rent; not one, he said, supports the assessment. “There has to be a reason,” he argued. Knell said that chronically unaddressed problems — such as street people — effectively keep people from coming downtown, no matter how many special events Downtown Santa Barbara hosts.
City Councilmember Michael Jordan, formerly on the board of Downtown Santa Barbara, challenged Knell to use his size and influence “to effect the change you want,” and encouraged him to become more involved.