Why do we even need cars on State Street? Looking down all of the newly open blocks on May 22, I saw opportunity beyond mere short-term repair. Restaurants pushing tables to the curb and beyond, happy diners dipping their toes back in the water after months of denial.
Every reawakening presents options for long-term evolution. There’s no reason for this to be this a temporary reaction only. Utilitarian driving on State is minimal, and nobody will miss the cruising. Maybe more people will ride a bike downtown.
This pandemic creates a glaringly obvious opening here: If Santa Barbara truly considers itself on level with top shelf international destinations, then let’s finally make it more pleasant, fun, and interactive (for tourists and locals alike). We should view current distancing requirements as a world-class opportunity: At the drop of a hat we could have a highly walkable, social and thriving city center. This might be the one shot we have to create our own amazing plaza — why shouldn’t there be tables and no cars there? (But closing from Sola all the way down is too much … let’s keep things condensed and hopping. I vote for Ortega to Haley.)
Come on Santa Barbara. Please make me proud and interested, and more willing to spend my money downtown again.