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Shop and Dine Along the NEW Santa Barbara State Street Promenade

June 1, 2020

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The Cruisery in Santa Barbara, welcomes the opening of State Street to pedestrians.

Photo Credit: Joshua Molina courtesy of Noozhawk

Santa Barbara’s State Street has been transformed into a welcoming Pedestrian Promenade in the wake of COVID-19. For now, the famous street is closed to vehicles from Haley to Sola streets and local businesses and restaurants are spilling out onto the sidewalks, welcoming shoppers, diners, and those who just want to walk the renowned street. The city closed the street to help restaurants expand their in-restaurant dining by moving tables to the sidewalk.

Redesigning a street

As more and more State Street stores shut their doors for good due to the economic impact of COVID-19, city officials decided to redesign the street, creatively utilizing the space along the downtown corridor. Their major concern was encouraging people to return while physically distancing so that all customers feel safe. And their solution aced those concerns. Watch this KCET report to see the new Santa Barbara State Street Pedestrian Promenade in action.

“It’s saddening to envision the possibility of a greater amount of business closures and vacancies," new City Economic Development Manager Jason Harris said. “This pandemic is really forcing the issue, and really expediting the need to expand our thinking.”

Harris knows what he’s talking about. His past work experience includes rejuvenating downtowns in Phoenix and Santa Monica. He has his hands full reviving Santa Barbara’s State Street with its unique stores and excellent outdoor dining options, reminiscent of European open-air markets.

READ: Santa Barbara Housing Market: Home Prices in the Shadow of COVID-19

Vitality and energy restored

The debate over closing part of State Street to cars has been going on for decades, and the move worked. Almost instantly, Santa Barbara State Street was infused with a sense of vitality and energy after struggling since Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order last March because of COVID-19. The transformation took place over Memorial Day weekend and was so successful that business owners and city officials have decided to keep it going, at least until Labor Day.

Santa Barbara's most famous shopping and dining street cuts through downtown and leads right onto Stearns Wharf. It's nearly impossible to miss, with its shops, art galleries, theaters, and attractions, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. But since last March, the lively street had become a ghost town.

The idea to transform Santa Barbara’s State Street into a Pedestrian Promenade is not new. In fact, locals have been pushing city leaders to close State Street to cars and create an open-air atmosphere downtown for many years now. When the pandemic devastated businesses, city officials were forced to scramble for creative ideas to help restaurants and retail. And it is working.

What’s open?

According to, the Santa Barbara State Street Pedestrian Promenade has been an exciting project.  It has helped the businesses reopen while being able to practice social distancing.  Most of the restaurants on the street have the opportunity to branch onto the sidewalk and into the streets. 

"It's amazing," said Aron Ashland, owner of The Cruisery on State Street told Noozhawk. "It's what the city should have done 20 years ago. The energy and liveliness that is going on downtown is amazing."

Residents and visitors on thenew State Street Pedestrian Promenade enjoying a bite to eat

Photo Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

Other examples of restaurants serving customers on State Street besides The Cruisery include: Holdren’s, Natural Café, Institution Ale, Joe’s Café, Pascucci, Asie Dumpling House, Habit Burger, Chase Bar and Grill, Oppiz, Embermill, Satellite, Mosaic Locale, Sama Sama, Benchmark, Taquira SB, Jane, Opal, and Carlitos (more to come). 

On the side streets, restaurants have the opportunity to create parklets on parking spots in front of their business. Examples include: Savoy Café and Little Kitchen (more to come). 

Many State Street retail locations as well as barbershops/salons are also beginning to open their doors. These retail establishments have the same opportunities to branch out to the sidewalks and the street. 

Former Santa Barbara Mayor and city council member Helene Schneider says opening the streets will help revitalize the city's economic base.

"It's great," she commented to Noozhawk’s Staff Writer Joshua Molina. "I think being flexible is important. I just hope people are smart and courteous to each other and wear their masks."

And those shopping and dining agree. Frank Acosta, wife Yatzie and their children, Solara and Marisa, enjoyed a walk down the middle of State Street over Memorial Day weekend. 

"It's nice to have a sense of normality again and not to be so stuck at home," Yatzie Acosta said. "You go from being the working person to all of a sudden being the teacher and the mom, the cooking, the cleaning, everything, so yeah, it's nice to come out, it's nice to feel a little bit more normal."

Don’t Forget Your Face Mask

People who gather along the nine-block stretch of Santa Barbara State Street are encouraged to wear masks. In fact, the County issued an order that temporarily requires people to wear face coverings in many settings, including the new Pedestrian Promenade.

The order from County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg states: "All individuals, unless an exception applies, must wear a face covering: when inside of or in line to enter any and all businesses; when using public transportation, a private car service, or a ride-sharing vehicle; drivers of those vehicles must wear a face covering while driving or operating vehicles regardless of whether a member of the public is in the vehicle."

Ansorg acknowledged that there is conflicting scientific evidence around the efficacy of face masks during a viral pandemic. But while science is waiting to give us a definitive answer, he went on, we ought to take the precaution.

“Face coverings are a simple gesture of shared respect to protect our neighbors,” said Supervisor Gregg Hart. “We are all in this together, and we will get through this together by taking care of each other.”

In addition, all businesses must require employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a face-covering at the workplace and at off-site work locations. The new order does not apply to infants or children younger than age 3.

The Santa Barbara State Street Promenade is figuratively and literally “a breath of fresh air” for local homeowners. It’s an obvious sign that business, recreation, and camaraderie is picking up. One business that has actually been quite active throughout the last couple months is real estate. Homeowners that already live here and are considering selling to move to a different Santa Barbara area neighborhood are not hesitating to list their properties, and potential buyers from Los Angeles and beyond are in the buying spirit. Considering buying or selling?  Give me a call or drop me an email and let’s talk. You can contact me at or +1 (805) 886-9378.

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Client Reviews

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch