Strong Towns Santa Barbara's AI-generated sketch of an idealized State Street | Credit: Courtesy

The following is an abridged version of Strong Towns Santa Barbara’s public comment letter submitted to the State Street Advisory Committee ahead of its critical meeting this Wednesday, June 26 at 3 pm.

Dear Members of the State Street Advisory Committee,

We write to you today to express our support and to offer suggestions to improve the proposed vision for the State Street Promenade. This is our opportunity to create a stronger, more people-oriented downtown Santa Barbara, by creating a true heart of the city welcoming to all. We believe the most successful promenade will result from:

  • Eliminating car traffic from the entire length of the promenade from the 400 block to the 1300 block.
  • Creating a pedestrian-centered promenade with dedicated space for public transit and cyclists via a flat and flexible design.
  • Creating a vibrant, equitable, and inviting human-scale space for all that both respects and enhances El Pueblo Viejo and local businesses.

Grand Paseo Framework

We support the “Grand Paseo” design framework. The guiding principles are excellent and true to the spirit of Santa Barbara Urbanism. The call for more housing on State Street and the rest of downtown is paramount, as the “transformation of downtown into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood” is critical to unlocking its potential.

The Climate Action Plan, the Bicycle Master Plan, the Pedestrian Master Plan, the El Pueblo Viejo design standards, and our Vision Zero strategy must be centered in our community’s long-term vision for State Street. We support these policies being incorporated into the proposed Grand Paseo concept, however, we do not understand or support them being limited to the 500-900 blocks (Haley to Carrillo streets).

The State Street Master Plan requires majority community support to succeed. From our perspective, the long-term vision most aligned with community consensus is a permanently car-free State Street that centers the pedestrian experience while also providing accessibility for all through alternative transportation.

A Curbless, Flat Design with Bikes and Transit for the 400-1300 Blocks

We support a curbless, flat, and flexible design for the entirety of the State Street Promenade, not just the 500-900 blocks.

We agree the State Street Promenade should be a pedestrian-centered experience. But with 80 feet to work with, there is plenty of space to include bikes and transit. Each block could host 60 feet of pedestrian amenities, outdoor dining, and retail displays. The 20-foot fire lane offers space for public safety, bikers, skateboarders, roller skaters, micro-transit, and/or a trolley. The State Street Master Plan should offer one coherent, consistent mobility design for the length of the promenade.

We strongly oppose any plan that degrades the 1000-1300 (Carrillo to Sola) and 400 blocks (Gutierrez to Haley) with loud, polluting, and unsightly car traffic. It is fundamentally at odds with the concept of a “Grand Paseo,” carefully crafted city policy, and the vibrant, welcoming, tranquil atmosphere that has made the current promenade a marked improvement to its pre-pandemic state: as a business corridor, destination, and community space. 

The 1300 and 400 blocks are the key gateways to the State Street Promenade and cannot be left as afterthoughts. They deserve full integration into the flat and flexible Grand Paseo design. To reach its full potential, the Promenade should stretch from the existing locals’ gateway to the Arts District (the Arlington Theater), all the way to a new gateway at the 400 block.

Maintain Regular Bike Access on the 700-800 Blocks

Rerouting bikes onto Chapala for two blocks (Ortega to Canon Perdido) would be needlessly wasteful and dangerous. Driveways are a large factor in the safety of bicycle routes. Chapala is a high-speed street with many driveways. By design, State Street has no driveways from Arlington Plaza to the underpass. We can leverage other solutions to slow bikes and ensure pedestrian safety. Occasional dismount zones for certain peak times (summer weekends, special events, holidays) seem like an acceptable compromise.


Strong Towns Santa Barbara is focused on creating people-oriented spaces in our beautiful city. These spaces are not only conducive to supporting family-friendly, tourist, and local uses alike but are also economically advantageous. As we look toward the future and strive to improve the centerpiece for our town, we should endeavor to be a model for what other cities can do.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Tristen Miller, Member
Sullivan Israel, Conversation Leader
Kira Pusch, Member
Luca D’Agruma, Member
Joanna Kaufman, Member
Carolina Frey, Member
Douglas Ridley, Member
George Nicks, Member
Alex Gravenor, Member
Gordon Blasco, Member
Cameron Morris, Member
Yen Seay, Member
Dan Ary, Member
Gordon Blasco, Member
Peter Smith, Member
Finnegan Israel, Member
John Dagger, Member
Tomaso Todosi, Member
Nick Stor, Member
Malcolm Brabec, Member
Ben Parnas, Member
John Semancik, Member
Melissa Cunningham, Member
Rebecca Vincent, Member
Emily Foley, Member
Grace Vazquez, Member
Colleen Reynolds, Member
Blythe Wilson, Member
Sheridan Green, Member
Kiaya Batkin, Member
Zoe Klement, Member
Aaron Posternack, Member
Emma Roeller, Member
Bojana Hill, Member
Gabe Starkey, Member
Brian Legal, Member
Kat Ackerman, Member
Ethan Keller, Member
Anika Clements, Member
Sophia Keane, Member
Guthre Leonard, Member
Aidan Barcia-Bacon, Member
Hannah Cohen, Member
Ian Baucke, Member
And the other 300+ members of Strong Towns Santa Barbara

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