By Robert Else
COAST is busy campaigning for a people-centered State Street! On April 4th, we hosted a successful “Reimagine State Street” event at the Impact Hub as part of the First Thursday celebration.
We wanted to gather feedback on a future State Street pedestrian mall and talk to people about COAST and State Street in general. We put up three large Post-It sheets with the heading “Do You Favor A Pedestrian Mall on State Street?” and drew 3 vertical columns: Yes, No, and Maybe. We also provided markers and smaller Post-Its for comments. The Yes column filled up, so we put up an additional large sheet on the other side of the whiteboard, which also filled up. There was not a single No.
Major themes were desires for musicians and other street performers and artists, street vendors, more benches and places to relax, outdoor dining, activities for kids, and more color, street art and murals. People also commented on opportunities for mixed-use buildings and affordable housing, and suggested more experimental street closures to motor vehicles. We estimate about 75 people attended; you can see their comments at bit.ly/2VU9HVU We also displayed photos and a continuous slide show of pedestrian malls from other cities; we got many “I’ve been there and it’s great!” comments on those malls.
On April 19th—21st, COAST cosponsored the City’s Experiment Weekend on State Street. This novel event started on a Friday night with a light and music show in the State Street underpass. On Saturday, two blocks of State Street were opened to people having fun while being closed to auto traffic. People loved it and business in adjacent stores and restaurants was up by 15%. On Sunday, the weekend concluded with a pop-up showcase. What a great event! We should do this more often.
By Judi Shor and Steve George
Four years is a long time to wait for a reply! That was the case for active COAST members and New Town Goleta Safety [NTGS] co-chairs, Steve George and Judi Shor. After observing school kids, mall employees, and shoppers all precariously walking alongside cars and trucks through the ‘sidewalk-free’ south section of the Fairview Shopping Center, they duly notified the management requesting a swift and responsible resolution. Imagine their surprise at having every mailed letter, e-mail, and phone call go unanswered over the following four years. Indeed, as the Fairview Center management representative communicated to the office of the Goleta City Manager, “The shopping center management does not respond to suggestions for improvements as a rule.” And further advised “...they do not believe they have an obligation to respond, and therefore do not engage”.
Other chronically unsafe mall conditions were brought to the attention of the Center management including a breach at the west corner of the 76 Station creating a reckless vehicular shortcut into the Center, and the exposed pedestrian-only plaza at the Fairview Theatre that is regularly mistaken as a roadway. NTGS continued to address these casualty-prone areas at their constituent meetings, COAST Advocacy Committee meetings, and with officials of the Goleta City Department of Public Works, City Council, and Design Review Board. Working with the invaluable support and experienced input of COAST’s Eva Inbar, a Fairview Center Pedestrian Safety Rally was ultimately organized for the at-risk public to step up through impactful community action.
On May 10th the public came together to communicate to the Center management and owners their long-standing concern for pedestrian, bicyclist, motorist and shopper safety --and support of its merchants. Rally participants lined the public sidewalks on Fairview and Calle Real (around the Shopping Center) to highlight the multiple safety issues that threaten not only shoppers but the onsite businesses. Rally members included two of the three seniors that recently tripped and fell on the uneven mall sidewalks. All three women sustained serious injuries.
Rally support was widespread. Many of the Center businesses simultaneously voiced their frustration over the neglected safety issues endangering their customers with their gratitude for the Rally. The Cajun Kitchen presented the participants with a case of bottled water. Several City leaders, including Mayor Pro Tem Kyle Richards, came by to learn and observe. The Opinions Editor of The SB Independent interviewed Mr. Prochelo of the Fairview Center management, Goleta City officials, and the Rally participants for an article published on May 16th in support of the mall safety initiatives. Passing vehicles showed their support verbally, by honking, and via thumbs-up. It is very true that “It takes a village”. Indeed, NTGS was supported by many local organizations including the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST), The Goodland Coalition, the Center for Successful Aging (CSA), and Live Oak Unitarian Church.
After countless meetings with community members, advocacy and environmental organizations, Goleta City officials, and 4 years of documented appeals to the Fairview Center management, the time for decisive action, not words, has come to a head. The unabated Shopping Center safety issues have now been widely publicized to the greater community through the success of the Rally and the accompanying media attention. With the imminent addition of the Dollar Tree Store next to Sprouts, the Miners ACE Hardware moving into the vacated Orchard’s location, and the many new area housing developments, Fairview mall traffic will continue to increase. This makes resolving these public safety issues even more critical and time-sensitive.
We are now turning toward our City leadership to help mitigate more Center ‘accidents waiting to happen.’ We are calling upon our elected officials and City leaders to send a clear message to the L.A. management of the Shopping Center that their constituents no longer be unduly put in harm’s way. We are hopeful that strong advocacy by the City will go a long way toward securing these consequential results. Who can accept another inevitable Fairview Center accident, or worse? We’re out of options, excuses . . . and time. The long NTGS road to safety continues.
To learn how you can help, visit NTGS at facebook.com/newtowngoletasafety/ or E-Mail: NTGS805@yahoo.com.
By Ana Rico and Eva Inbar
On April 25th, 2019, the City of Santa Barbara held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Montecito Street Bridge in the Eastside. This bridge was so narrow that people had to sprint across in the traffic lane to avoid being hit by buses and trucks. Now it has a dedicated bike lane and a sidewalk...much safer! We thank the City of Santa Barbara for rebuilding it. COAST campaigned for a new bridge and organized Eastside mothers to rally in 2014. It takes patience! You'll love the photos below from our rally.