Why Are the Thousand Steps Still Wet?

Why are the Thousand Steps still wet all the time? I thought the point of the six-month closure was to fix that problem. —S.

When the Thousand Steps reopened in September 2022, after being closed for six months, the following improvements were listed in the press release:

—Demolition and reconstruction of the lower 24 steps and installation of seven additional steps, to provide a safer and more accessible path during seasonal changes to sand level.
—Installation of a continuous handrail extending from the street level to the beach.
—Construction of a new concrete guardrail at the main landing mid-stairway.
—Drainage improvements to allow for groundwater capture to reduce algae growth and slippery stair treads.
—Installation of a bicycle rack on top of the bluff.

I asked the city’s Parks & Recreation department about the water. “Unfortunately, the hydrostatic pressure is so high the seeping water cannot be stopped on this 100-year-old coast access stairway,” was the response. “The City did install handrails on both sides of the stairs and regularly cleans the stairs to remove algae.” Parks & Rec had hoped to put stainless steel grates on the steps, to make them less slippery, but the Historic Landmarks Commission felt that wouldn’t fit with the historic design of the 1925 structure.

And there’s still a bit more work to come. When conditions allow—i.e., once there’s enough sand again—there will be a brief closure to add an apron at the beach level to protect the stairs from wave damage.

Got a question you’d like investigated? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.


Previous Burning Questions:
••• What’s happening with Sola Street?
••• Why are trees being cut down above the San Ysidro Ranch?
••• Why is this lot on Milpas Street still vacant?
••• Where else do cruise ships that visit here go?
••• What’s happening with the Pepper Tree Inn?
••• What is this large memorial in Ennisbrook?
••• What’s the large building under construction next to Highway 101?
••• Who bought the former St. Mary’s seminary—and why?
↓↓↓ What will happen to the SBPD building when the new building is completed?
••• How does the city decide to mark bike lanes?
••• What’s the story with this house on W. Cota Street?
••• What are those little houses on Santa Barbara Street?
••• Which Highway 101 exits are getting renamed?
••• Is the Music Academy of the West adding pedestrian gates?
••• Why does the Coast Village Road median look so bad?
••• What’s the point of this light pole near the freeway?
••• Why are the city’s parking lots scanning license plates?
••• What’s inside Paseo Nuevo’s State Street tower?
••• What’s the point of these markings on Laguna Street?
••• Why is there a giant red shoe off Highway 101?
••• Are we no longer allowed on the SBHS baseball field?
••• What does “SBTP” on this post mean?
••• What’s up with the “no e-bike” signs on local trails?
••• Why is Franceschi House in a holding pattern?
••• Why is there a train station inside this State Street storefront?
••• What’s happening with this derelict house in Summerland?
••• Why is there wood on some power lines?
••• Can you explain how sundowner winds work?
••• Why is there a pressure cooker attached to this utility pole?
••• What’s this concrete ramp thing on East Beach?
••• Why does “USA” get written on the street?
••• What are those poles in the ocean near the Ritz-Carlton Bacara?
••• Are people really allowed to set fires in the middle of Montecito?
••• What’s the story with the half-finished lot next to the Montecito Country Mart?


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I agree. The spirit is to keep things looking beautiful but sometimes, when it comes to safety, function has to win.


Could not agree more. The HLC is increasingly of the mind that old = historic. My favorite is the median on Upper State that they recently designated a historic resource. It’s literally a median with a ground cover and palms. Two plantings. To hear them tell it, it’s the Lotusland of medians, a precious treasure that must be protected. It’ a median. Yes, it’s been there for a long time, but so has the street. I roll my eyes every time I drive past.


Nothing about that staircase looks historic, or worthy of breaking one’s back in order to preserve.


I’m assuming the City will be liable when someone inevitably slips and is injured on the renovated stairs— since a decision was made to value “heritage” over safety.


Aside from it still being slippery, how much of our money was wasted on this? It wasn’t free.

How does the community get their input taken into account by the HLC or else change out who’s on it and how it works? Obviously this was terrible judgement and most people aren’t sounding supportive of this decision. Anyone know?


Within days of the steps opening they were indistinguishable from pre-“renovation.” What a waste of probably hundreds of thousands or more.