Santa Barbara Talks: Business Leaders Say Downtown Assessment District Could Fix ‘Broken’ State Street

Three downtown business leaders talked about the benefits of the proposed Community Benefit Assessment District for State Street in the latest episode of Santa Barbara Talks with Josh Molina.

Francois DeJohn, co-founder of Hayes Commercial Group, said too many State Street tenants have defected to Coast Village Road, the Santa Barbara Public Market and the Funk Zone because of the conditions on State Street.

These departures, DeJohn said, “have left State Street kind of devoid of energy, of excitement, and we’re truly hoping that the CBID would allow the owners to re-invest in their own area and actually revitalize our downtown core.”

DeJohn said, “State Street is the spine of our community, from a commercial standpoint,” and “Paseo Nuevo is the heart of our commercial area.”

“To be totally candid, both of those are broken,” DeJohn said

Click here to watch the 30-minute podcast conversation.

The property-based Community Benefit Improvement District is a funding tool that allows property owners to pool their financial resources by assessing themselves to pay for certain district-wide activities and improvements.

The money would go to address cleanliness, safety, beautification, maintenance, identity, and placemaking, beyond what the city currently provides.

Through a recent survey, property owners identified key areas for downtown improvement, including tackling homelessness, enhancing public safety and security, and revitalizing the downtown area with special events and beautification projects.

Also explaining the assessment district on the podcast are Trevor Large, founding partner of Fauver, Large, Archbald & Spray LLP, and developer Peter Lewis.

Members of the Community Benefit Improvement District Steering Committee include Joe Corazza, Trey Pinner, Crosby Slaught, Janet Garufis, Ron Robertson, Trevor Large, Geoffrey Carter, Peter Lewis, Mitchell Sjerven, Matt LaBrie, David de L’Arbre, Dan Burnham, CJ Young, Kristen Miller, Mary Lynn Harms-Romo, Robin Elander, Daniel Ramirez, Consultant, and Marco Li Mandri of New City America.

For more information, visit

Property owners can get their copy of the petition by emailing Robin Elander, CBID Project Manager at

Elander encouraged property owners to sign the petition, by Feb. 28.

Joshua Molina is journalist who currently writes for Noozhawk and teaches journalism at Santa Barbara City College. He formerly covered politics and land use for the San Jose Mercury News. Santa Barbara Talks is an independently owned podcast where Molina looks to bring together voices from all perspectives to discuss and provide solutions to the challenges related to housing, education, transportation and other community issues. Subscribe to his podcast here and consider a contribution here.