A consultant to help redesign State Street in downtown Santa Barbara could cost up to $800,000, double the $400,000 originally proposed by city staff.
The deadline for the Master Plan RFP is Thursday. This is the second version of the request, known as the RFP, because the original the city released did not contain a specific dollar cap.
Inside City Hall, the planned budget at the time was between $200,000 and $400,000.
“The request for proposals originally did not include a budget target,” said Tess Harris, the senior State Street planner for the city. “We quickly realized that although we were looking for the best possible proposals, proposals that came in with significant cost ranges would be difficult to compare and potentially unrealistic from a budget perspective. »
The $800,000, she said, would provide a maximum budget that “allows us to better address these issues effectively and have a robust public engagement process.”
City Council has yet to approve the consultant’s funding.
The city found that the initial scope of its work was too large for the dollar amount it had announced. Potential bidders at a tender briefing on Jan. 28 said the cost would be much higher — more than $1 million — for the city-requested work. The city therefore revised the scope of the work and raised the budget ceiling to $800,000.
The city wants to hire a consultant to work with the State Street Master Plan Committee on a plan that reinvents and redesigns downtown State Street. Some of the goals include revitalizing downtown, facilitating downtown housing, revitalizing the local economy, creating a safer people-centric experience, reclaiming downtown identity. city and its redesign for the inhabitants.
The goal is also to create a welcoming environment for art, music and culture, as well as open spaces, and to keep pedestrians, cyclists and people of all abilities safe on and off State Street. .
The RFP suggests that State Street should have “recognized neighborhoods, a park-like experience, a gathering place for the community, and a connection to side streets and the beach.”
Santa Barbara was forced to take a sudden look down on State Street after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the immediate closure of all non-essential businesses and limited restaurants to takeout only, before finally allowing eating out. .
The city took advantage of the circumstances to abruptly close 13 blocks of State Street to vehicles and allow restaurants to move dining outdoors. Although the changes have brought people back to downtown and revitalized some blocks, they have created safety issues with pedestrians, cyclists and dog walkers all sharing the same space, a few meters – or less – of where people ate.
The city also failed to consider fire safety and emergency access when it initially allowed restaurants to expand into the street. As a result, tables, chairs, and plants meandered down the middle of the street.
Earlier this year, the city ordered restaurants to move tables closer to sidewalks to free up at least 14 feet of space in the middle for firefighters to access.
At the same time, many members of Santa Barbara’s old guard have expressed concerns about the aesthetics of State Street, as have business owners who are outside of the State Street area.
None of the changes went through the traditional review process, like the Historic Landmarks Commission, which could weigh in and provide commentary on the mishmash of restaurant exterior design layouts.
However, the general public doesn’t seem to care as much, with evenings and weekends often filled with a younger demographic enjoying a night on the town.
The State Street Master Plan Committee is made up of 13 citizens and is chaired by Dave Davis, who served as the city’s director of community development and planner for nearly 25 years. Davis says the project is a historic opportunity and recommends the city not rush it or try to complete the redesign cheaply.
When he joined the committee, Davis said, then-city administrator Paul Casey told him there was a $500,000 budget set aside for the overhaul. After the January meeting, the consultants stated that the scope of work outlined in the RFP was $1.4 million.
“We don’t want to go over $800,000,” Davis said.
According to Davis, the process of public participation should be equal to that of creating a general municipal plan.
“It’s not a short-term deal,” he said. “It’s over 20 to 30 years. We are looking for long term for the city.
“It has to be a major community planning process. Being cautious is better.
Realistically, Davis said, a community process will take at least 18 months.
Councilwoman Meagan Harmon, whose District Six includes much of downtown State Street, said redesigning the corridor will require “a significant investment.”
“I am confident that if we make a meaningful investment now – if we do the work thoroughly and comprehensively, with broad community engagement from the start – we will produce a master plan that is a master plan for a revitalized and reimagined State Street. which will serve the whole city for generations to come,” she said.