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Art piece on State St. causes controversy

By John Palminteri, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Senior Reporter, johnp1250@aol.com
Published On: Apr 18 2013 08:36:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 18 2013 08:41:13 PM CDT

A bench many see as art is becoming a problem for tourists and locals because transients and other panhandlers gather in that spot.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

A piece of artwork on State St. in downtown has been a gathering place for transients and, at times, their behavior has impacted shoppers and businesses.

The brickwork is called the "Crescent Crossing."  It is located in the 600 block near Ortega Street.

Police Sgt. Riley Harwood says that area, "gets more complaints than any other ones in the downtown corridor."    He said among the problems are aggressive panhandling, and people blocking the sidewalk.  The police department would like to see the art piece moved.

The arts community says there could be some changes to make it less attractive for big groups to gather around, but it is not in favor of moving the piece which was specifically chosen for the site.

A business owner,  Joey Summerville from a nearby restaurant Blush says he has heard from customers who are uncomfortable walking through the area.  Summerville also says guests who want to sit outside will move inside to avoid any connection with the transients who can be intrusive.  "So they chose to not sit in the patio which is one of our biggest selling points and sit inside instead which is not really what they were looking for," said Summerville.

Business owners say the group that gathers at the site can sometimes be there 12 hours a day.

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