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In what will come as a big surprise to absolutely nobody, 85 percent of the 4,764 people who filled out an online survey about the future of Santa Barbara’s State Street said the pedestrian promenade — that stretch of State Street between Haley and Sola Street that’s been blocked to traffic since May — should either stay the way it is or be expanded. Only 4.5 percent of the respondents said traffic should be returned to State Street, and nearly 8 percent said the car-free zone should be reduced in size.
Of those favoring the new regime — in which pedestrians, bike riders, restaurants, and bars share the street-scape — 46.5 percent said the promenade boundaries should stay as they are, and nearly 39 percent said they should be expanded. There was less agreement over what access bike riders should be afforded should the promenade be allowed to continue: 56.3 percent said cyclists and pedestrians should share the space; 35 percent said only pedestrians should be allowed; less than 3 percent said cyclists only.
The survey was conducted by the Santa Barbara Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), whose members — at least 173 of them — are currently in the throes of an extended collective re-imagination exercise known affectionately to those in the trade as a “charette” to architecturally reconfigure the DNA of downtown. The survey was designed to dovetail into that exploration. Of the 4,764 respondents, 98 percent lived in the South Coast, 76 percent lived within city limits, and 31 percent either lived or worked downtown. The vast majority of the respondents replied to the questionnaire offered in English; just 12 responded to the Spanish version.