What About People with Physical Challenges?

Although I could not agree more with the majority of Robert Skinner’s letter on ending racism, I have a problem with the bigger picture of “calling for an end to racism, bigotry, and hate in all of its forms” as it relates to the Towbes Group. How does the Towbes Group feel about disabled people, seniors, young children, and other people with physical challenges?

I have tried for eight years, as chair of the New Town Goleta Safety group, to get the Towbes Group to respond to our request to address the steps at the Chase Bank in the Calle Real shopping center and to participate in developing safe access options related to the new signaled crosswalk on Calle Real that connects both sides of their shopping center. They have ignored all requests for correspondence and meetings on the subject. Their way of handling the issue in their recent proposal to the Goleta Design Review Board was to hide the stairs behind a truck and to ignore the new crosswalk.

Currently all mobility-challenged individuals must enter the roadway and navigate in traffic when trying to go between Albertsons and the higher Towbes center. To use the new signaled crosswalk, pedestrians must compete with vehicles coming in and out of the driveways.

I applaud your comments on racism, but how about expanding your view and supporting the whole community?

Editor’s Note: We asked Robert Skinner if he’d like to reply, and he sent this note, along with an invitation to George for a dialog: “The Towbes Group does not own the Calle Real Shopping Center but manages it. We do not manage the adjacent property where Albertsons is located. An ADA-compliant ramp serving Chase Bank could not be created without the approval and consent of the adjacent property owner. Unfortunately, we were not able to achieve an agreement with the adjacent property owner on the ADA ramp at Chase, and the City of Goleta approved the stairs instead. The bank and the grocery store, however, are accessible via the arcade between the two areas; agreed, it may not be the optimal solution — but we tried.

As for the crosswalk on Calle Real, it is also a matter for the City of Goleta, and not the shopping center, though we did suggest improvements to the central crossing point in our initial talks about revamping the shopping center.

The truck mentioned was an element to show scale in one of several elevation studies, and it was not at all intended to “hide” anything.

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