Santa Maria city leaders are working to transform the downtown area into a destination.
A five-story housing complex on South Broadway and East Main Street will be going up in Santa Maria after the City Council approved the project Tuesday night. Earlier this summer, the same development group also proposed to convert the former Fallas store on Broadway into residential apartments.
The store neighbors many small businesses who are excited to see more people in town, but locals say they have mixed feelings as the population of Santa Maria starts to swell.
"I know that housing is needed, but it seems like a very crunched area," said Guadalupe resident Kelly Cable.
"The congestion is a little bit worrisome," added Adam Cable. "This is a small area in a small town as it was once, and now it is just kind of overpopulated."
Wednesday afternoon, the Cables were out to lunch at Roscoe's Kitchen, which is just a short walk away from the former Fallas store. General manager Anthony Burns says more tenants will translate to more city-wide benefits.
"Downtown is always the energy of the city," Burns told KSBY. "When you can provide a wholesome atmosphere downtown, from living, being able to eat at different restaurants, entertainment, it is a big plus. It is a win for the city and it is a win for all the businesses here."
On Wednesdays, Santa Maria also hosts its weekly downtown farmers' market, where those selling produce also expressed excitement about the new developments.
"It will really help boost up our sales and get more people out here, and, you know, support the local farmers," said Maria Andrea-Domingo of Alma Produce.
And while the Cables hail from Guadalupe, they say a spike in population would hinder their frequent commutes into the city.
"If it becomes an issue getting in here, we will probably take Nipomo and take the freeway into Santa Maria," Kelly Cable said.
"You are going to have to leave earlier to get to work and adjust your time schedule accordingly," Adam Cable added.
Maria Andrea-Domingo counters that congestion on the road is simply inescapable.
"Anywhere you go there is traffic, no matter where you go. Now you see all these big houses and apartment complexes, so it is what it is right now," she said.
A City of Santa Maria spokesperson says they will host plenty more opportunities for the public to voice their opinions on these new developments. Councilmembers are expected to vote on the Fallas conversion project by the end of the year.