The forlorn De La Guerra Plaza,* off E. De La Guerra Street between State and Anacapa, is inching toward an exciting revamp. This Wednesday, February 17, the Historic Landmarks Commission will discuss the proposed renovation, seen below for the first time. From the agenda:
The Plaza De La Guerra Revitalization Project involves raising the entire Plaza, as well as De La Guerra Street between Anacapa Street and State Street, to be level with the existing sidewalk. Proposed improvements include new landscaping, splash pad, restrooms, kiosk, arcade, stage, art nodes, lighting, and trash/recycling.
There’s much to like: the removal of car traffic and parking, the blocking off half of that block of E. De La Guerra Street, the airiness, and the dining area. The art nodes and stage will depend entirely on the curation, which is a concern. As for the arcade, I’d like to know more about the point of it, and I wish the “splash pad”—one of those wet play areas for kids—would disappear. It would be more at home in Paseo Nuevo.
The approval process is sure to be long, because the plaza ia a prominent part of downtown and it’s surrounded by landmarks. Also from the agenda:
The 2011 Historic Structures/Sites Report accepted by the HLC found that Plaza De La Guerra is eligible for listing as a City of Santa Barbara Landmark, eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources, and eligible for listing as a significant Cultural Landscape in the National Register of Historic Places. Surrounding Plaza De La Guerra are City Hall and the California Pepper Tree, The News Press Building, Casa De La Guerra, and El Paseo, all designated City Landmarks; and the La Placita Building a.k.a. McKay-Bothin Building that is a designated Structure of Merit.
The anchor of the plaza is the Santa Barbara News-Press building; it’s only a matter of time till the newspaper goes under and the building is put to another use (or not, and it becomes one more big white elephant downtown). Imagine if it were a luxury hotel, looking out over the plaza….
*The agenda calls it Plaza De La Guerra, while the plans refer to it as De La Guerra Plaza, and the internet is equally divided between the two.
Other local projects in the works:
••• State Street undercrossing revamp
••• Highway 101
••• Dwight Murphy Field upgrade
••• Ortega Park renovation
••• New Carpinteria skate park
••• Santa Claus Lane improvements
Sign up for the Siteline email newsletter and you’ll never miss a post.