Santa Barbara View asked the candidates running for Santa Barbara City Council, What will you do to reclaim State Street? Here is Jason Nelson’s response.
“Many factors have led to the slide of State Street as both a tourism hotspot, and its residents’ favorite shopping and dining area. These include the perception/reality of the area being unsafe, dirty and corporate-centric. Criminal vagrants have overrun the lower part of State Street and there are too many empty storefronts to believe we are truly in an economic rebound. So, what is the answer to this?
First, we need address the issue of our homeless, and the criminal vagrant element hiding within that population. We need to provide the necessary resources to the mentally ill, assist those with drug and alcohol dependencies, and help find opportunity for those who want to reintegrate into our society. But for those who have made being homeless a lifestyle choice, we need to impress on them when their behavior is unacceptable; aggressive confrontations, drunk in public, open drug use, and the takeover of public spaces is not behavior we would accept from college students, residents, professionals, or tourists, and by tolerating this, we give up these areas permanently. This lowers the quality of life for those who live and work here, and lowers the quality of experience for those who visit.
Second, we need to acknowledge that the unreasonable permitting process of starting a business in this city has kept the “mom and pop” shops from finding a place in our featured business corridor. The opening of a business is cost prohibitive, and the process takes entirely too long. The city administration unfairly applies laws and ordinances, giving national chains an inherent and unfair advantage over locally owned small businesses. This is important because small, locally owned shops are what gives Santa Barbara its charm, and locally owned businesses means that the profits stay local and are re-invested in our community.
Although I disagree with creating tourist attractions merely for the sake of tourism dollars (which makes it cheap), I recognize that we are a tourist destination. Small, locally owned shops and restaurants bring the type of charm and character that Santa Barbara is known and became famous for. Taking back State Street is the first step in our own economic development, while diversification will be what sustains us.”
Jason’s campaign website can be found here, http://sbneedsleaders.com/.