State Street divides the downtown Santa Barbara area into East and West, starting at the waterfront and continuing through the commercial district, including El Paseo and Paseo Nuevo Malls, to uptown Santa Barbara, near La Cumbre Shopping Mall.  Our downtown area features older, character homes, plus income properties and the now popular mixed-use buildings, which combine luxury condos with commercial space.

Many people prefer to live in the downtown area because of the ease of walking everywhere:  movie and theatrical theaters (Arlington, Lobero and Granada) our public library, and dozens of Zagat-rated restaurants and boutique shops.  There is something for everyone in the downtown area!

The Historic Walking Tour of Santa Barbara provides a great way to explore some of Santa Barbara’s history and architecture by foot.

The following information was derived from the original General Plan for the City of Santa Barbara.  The downtown area features many newer luxury condo complexes as well as older bungalows, and multi-family properties.  The Santa Barbara Athletic Club, Spectrum Gym, and 24-hour Fitness are also conveniently located to the downtown corridor.  This is the area with a high density of restaurants – from fast food to high-end, – as well as entertainment possibilities – museums, theaters, etc.

Neighborhood Boundary – downtown

Area: approx. 169 acres
North: Sola Street
South: Ortega Street
East: Santa Barbara Street
West: De la Vina Street

Schools, Parks and Places of Interest

The Downtown shares with the Laguna neighborhood the site of the old Spanish Presidio. The existing El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park is located in Downtown. The Arlington Theater, Granada Theater, City Hall, Main Library, Courthouse, the Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum, and the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Mall are located Downtown. Parks in the area include Spencer Adams (lawn bowling) and the Cabrillo Recreation Center.

Neighborhood Profile

Since it is the Central Core, the Downtown area is more intensively used than other parts of the City. In addition to its primary function called for in the General Plan as General Commercial and Office Use, the Downtown also houses a small number of City residents. Residences range from cottages and second story apartments to residential hotels and institutions. Plans for redevelopment envision high-density residential development on the periphery of the Downtown district.

Neighborhood Boundary

Area: approx. 198 acres
North: Sola Street
South: Highway 101
East: De la Vina, Ortega and Chapala streets
West: Highway 101

Schools, Parks and Places of Interest

While no schools or parks are in this area bordered by Highway 101, the Department of Motor Vehicles is located here.

West Downtown contains extensive commercial as well as residential use. One of the oldest residential neighborhoods in the City, West Downtown contains some of Santa Barbara’s architecturally important residential structures. Many of these homes have been converted into relatively low-density apartments. In addition, new apartment complexes are replacing older single-family houses as West Downtown continues in transition to higher-density residential and commercial uses. Increased commercial activity has occurred in the eastern portions of the area, primarily on Chapala and Carrillo streets (now home of many new condo developments such as Paseo Chapala, Chapala One and El Andaluz.)

Since it is in close proximity to the downtown business and shopping area, the General Plan considers West Downtown to be appropriate for apartment development, and allows twelve dwelling units to the acre. The entire neighborhood is zoned for multiple-unit development or commercial uses (R-3, R-4 or C-2), even though substantial portions are currently occupied by single-family homes.



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