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Public Invited to Dig Into Downtown Housing Design

Release Date: June 5,2019

Free Symposium Will Explore Past, Present, and Future of City Architecture

Tyler Hayden, Santa Barbara Independent

Photo: Courtesy Artist’s renderings (above and below) of possible downtown housing designs.

There’s no shortage of differing ideas — and opinions — about the best way to fix downtown Santa Barbara. But there’s widespread agreement on at least one point: The construction of new housing should be part of any State Street improvement plan. It would inject new life and new money into the area and help address the city’s chronic housing shortage. Plus, Sacramento has ordered each and every California city to build more homes. We don’t make much of a choice.

To that end, a unique group of government leaders, architects, and historians is putting on a free public symposium to explore Santa Barbara’s urban design and how the city can add more housing without disrupting its architecturally successful DNA. The three-day event, called Santa Barbara: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, was organized by Harrison Design, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Downtown Santa Barbara, and the City of Santa Barbara. 

Photo: Courtesy

“The goal of the symposium is to understand how Santa Barbara became the enviably beautiful city we have today, and to discuss how these principles can be used to address our current challenges,” said architect and Historic Landmarks Commission member Anthony Grumbine in a press statement. “It is an event for everyone who cares deeply about the future of the city, whether they be historic preservationists, planners, architects, developers, property owners, or engaged citizens.”

Things kick off June 6 with an archive showcase at the recently restored Alhecama Theatre followed the next day with talks on Traditional Urbanism and post-WWII development. There will also be a walking tour, panel discussions, and lunch at Casa de la Guerra, ending with a watercolor meetup at the courthouse. All events are free to attend, but registration is required. For more information, visit