Our architecturally sublime downtown Santa Barbara has been hijacked by unsightly parklets. This would have been legendary Pearl Chase’s worse nightmare. We have all lost the enjoyment of driving up and down State Street looking into shop windows we want to visit and purchase items from. We can no longer ride slowly in our car to enjoy the beauty of our city while sharing it with elderly family members and out of town guests. We often enjoyed riding the trolley while shopping but sadly that too is gone.

No longer are Fiesta, Solstice and July 4th parades festively marching up State nor can we drive our young grandchildren downtown to celebrate the magical Christmas light displays at night.

Like so many we too avoid the downtown “scene.” When COVID hit we accepted that parklets were the only way for restaurants to financially survive. Now they are “eyesores” overtaking our city’s creatively designed and unique architecture. When restaurant owners opened for business they accepted the footprint of their space which did not include part of the street. Sometimes parklets are used as restrooms for the homeless at night and rodents have even been photographed chowing down in them.

In the daytime there’s nothing charming about walking on State Street because one feels like a pin in a bowling alley, dodging out of the way of dangerous and radically moving bicyclists, skate boarders, e-bikers, scooters, etc. Serious bodily injury is one set of wheels away. Our young granddaughter barely escaped being hit by one of them.

We have studied the many plans and the suggested rationale for keeping State Street permanently closed for a promenade, which includes protecting the environment from automobile pollution, yet 21 percent of cars in California are electric with continued uptick daily. Sorry to say the end result may see more businesses diminished or closing as they are now.

Please let the community of Santa Barbara vote on how they want their beloved State Street to remain going forward.


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