Santa Barbara blocking vehicle access to portion of State Street to create 'pedestrian promenade'

The closure will allow businesses to expand outdoor seating
Posted at 12:30 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 01:09:06-04

Drivers will not have access to a portion of Santa Barbara's State Street starting Friday afternoon.

The temporary change, which goes into effect at 4 p.m. from Sola to Haley streets, comes after the City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to allow restaurants and cafes to expand seating, allowing for more social distancing.

Businesses there will be allowed to create parklets or use some sections of the road as well as sidewalks and public and private parking spaces to create what's being called a pedestrian promenade.

Santa Barbara has moved into phase 2B of re-opening, which gives the green light for re-opening to retail and dine-in restaurants as long as proper guidelines are followed.

"This is an idea whose time has come. Locals have talked about the transition of State Street to a pedestrian promenade for decades. We can open businesses in a way that is safe and inviting while having open streets for pedestrians. These temporary measures give us a chance to really vision what the future of Downtown could be," said Santa Barbara Mayor Pro Tem Kristen Sneddon.

The City "strongly encourages" people to wear face coverings within the pedestrian plaza. It will be open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

It's not known when State Street will re-open. The City says the emergency measure due to COVID-19 will stay in place through Memorial Day weekend but could last for weeks or even months.

Cross streets remain open.