The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real

When I mentioned to some friends that I was going to walk the Haley Corridor, they laughed in that knock-yourself-out way. But I loved it: the area feels real, a backstage counterpoint to the show over on State Street.

The Haley Corridor Association defines the neighborhood’s borders as State and Milpas, and Cota and Montecito. There was no way to cover all of the streets, so I parked in the lot at Anacapa and Haley, stayed on Haley all the way out to Milpas, and came back via Reddick, Quarantina, and Gutierrez.

The smaller the street, the more likely it is that there’s no sidewalk. This will not go over well with anyone who works in the area, but I believe the city should encourage more residential development in the Haley Corridor, which would entail eliminating this kind of parking. People shouldn’t have to walk in the street this close to downtown.

Everywhere you go, you’re reminded that this is a part of town devoted to trades. By slowing down and walking, I noticed many more small makers—often set back off the street—than I ever had driving by.

In case you were wondering, Los Pinos is a furniture maker, Sunset’s full name is Sunset Sheet Metal & HVAC, and Sikama is “a prime supplier of conduction and convection SMT reflow soldering ovens and systems to major high technology companies in the USA, Asia and Europe.”

I’ve long believed that construction-related trades have a knack for signage and branding. Buena Tool’s logo breaks all sorts of typographic rules—and is all the better for it.

Economy Supply Co. has two excellent signs and a mysterious skeleton with a shag.

Love’s Towing embedded its branding in the driveway.

But it’s only reasonable that Freedom Signs would really know how to play the game.

So many great names! Smog It sounds like something that would get dubbed in place of an expletive; Dago is a prime example of taking a word back; Stone Age has always struck me as a fabulous name for a paleo restaurant; and if Debbie’s Delights and Ooty’s Scooters merged we could simply call them Debooty’s.

Props to Smog It for the warning sign.

After I got home, I tried looking up R•A•E at 706 E. Haley, but Google says Vernon Construction is at that address (and there’s nothing online about R•A•E). Meanwhile, as I approached the Buena sign, I assumed—without thinking—it was for Buena Onda, makers of fine empanadas, even though I knew Buena Onda is further east. The Buena sign is Buena Tile.

A general rule is that if you can’t tell what the company does, it’s probably branding and marketing. SLTWTR—brilliant name—plays its exterior cool, while Oniracom’s has an admirable amount of funk, including playing-card suits embedded in the motor court and a unidentified flying object affixed to the fence.

I’d expect more street art in an area like this. Of course, there’s the George Floyd mural, and the half-a-leopard at Winick Architects…

…and best of all, The Loft of “junk artist” J.W. Adkins at 720 E. Haley. From the bio on his website:

In 1978, Bill and his wife, Martha, founded The Hardwood Mill in Santa Barbara, California. They carried and sold over 55 species of exotic and domestic hardwoods until retiring in 2001. Located at 720 E. Haley St. in Santa Barbara, the hardwood business gradually transformed into a center of highly individualized artistic productions based on Bill’s unique vision of the world. He calls it “The Loft.”

For 30 years, Bill has been collecting exotic hardwoods, unusual metal and glass items from government and private auctions as well as many interesting donations from friends. He uses welding, carpentry, mechanical and artistic skills to assemble exquisite, fanciful and fantastic found-object sculptures and collages that fill his garden, gallery and parking area. Bill, now 81 (2012), continues at “a rapid snail’s pace” to make art every day.

There are many more photos on his Facebook page, which says that “tours are available, no charge, on a walk in basis, when the gate is open and we’re in the mood to take the time.” That was from 2016, so it may be out of date. Note that it’s “a child and dog free zone.”

I stopped in at Duo Catering & Events to check out its prepared food options—need to go back for some potato-and-leek soup—and Deux Bakery for a scone. Every time I’m at the latter, I take a photo of the sign by the register.

As you often see in Santa Barbara, little houses pop up here and there. Some have been converted to offices.

And some are on their way out. The cottage community at 219 E. Haley is being replaced with something much slicker.

The other development I know of in the area is the warehouse under construction at 335 E. Gutierrez (northwest corner of Laguna).

The various city authorities overseeing new construction must be a little unsure what feels appropriate for the Haley Corridor, because the architecture runs the gamut. I was pleased to get a close-up look at Prestigious Auto Body’s queer little structure at the corner of Garden and Gutierrez and the old brick building at Haley and Milpas. And then there’s the metal bunker thing at Central City Auto Supply….

Speaking of weird architecture, we can’t leave out Haley Cottages. As if the facade wasn’t odd enough, the sign implies that the hostel thinks of itself as a tropical retreat.

I came across several things I learned as a result of doing this website. For example, the Mill has a second-floor vacation rental.

And St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church was recently deemed a city landmark.

And a giant battery array is slated to take the place of this building at Gutierrez and Quarantina.

As I mention in every Walk With Me post, when you slow down, you notice so much more—such as this quirky iron fence, the vase above Italian Pottery Outlet’s warehouse, the little burro (burrito?) planter at Bob’s Canvas, and EOS Lounge’s David Lynch–ian window display.

Naturally, the walk also brought up questions. Why is the reopening of Plaza de Vera Cruz delayed by nearly six months? I reached out to the Parks & Recreation Department, but I have to hear back, and it doesn’t show up on the Parks & Recreation’s list of park improvement projects.

Why is there a large vacant lot at 201 E. Haley (corner of Santa Barbara)?

How did this canopy ever get approved?

Why does the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition have a parklet?

Why is there a lifeguard station on Anacapa Street? If you know the answers, feel free to share. Or not! Life needs little mysteries.

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Walk With Me…
The Unvarnished Appeal of Yankee Farm
Where Montecito Gets Down to Business
The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
The Small-Town Charms of Samarkand
Climbing the Back of Eucalyptus Hill
Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
Social Distancing Made Easy at UCSB
In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
Whitney Avenue in Summerland
School House Road and Camphor Place

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