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'Safe and Clean Streets' Meeting Shows Recent Success in Downtown Santa Barbara

By John Palminteri, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Senior Reporter, johnp1250@aol.com
Published On: Jun 04 2014 10:10:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 04 2014 10:17:32 PM CDT

THE CRACK DOWN OF STREET TRANSIENTS AND CRIMINALS THAT HAVE BEEN HANGING AROUND IN DOWNTOWN SANTA BARBARA LED TO OVER 100 ARRESTS AND CITATIONS IN MARCH.

NOW BUSINESS OWNERS SAY THEY ARE SEEING AN IMPROVEMENT AND WANT IT TO CONTINUE.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Santa Barbara's downtown is getting attention from several different directions, and the bottom line is a cleaner, safer district for visitors and business owners.

The influx of rolling transients had become a disturbing issue for many people.  

But a police crackdown in March led to over 100 citations and arrests.  Some of those contacted by police, were street vending without a permit, and others were wanted for crimes.

The special attention has been a united effort by police, business leaders, city council members, and agencies that help people who are struggling in life.

Gene McKnight with the Downtown Organization says, he has tried to understand the plight of people down on their luck. However, there are many people that are offensive and disruptive on a daily basis to the historic and often prosperous downtown area. 

"I would like to think that I am tolerant, but we have to separate the homeless and the mentally ill from the transients who are disrupting the normal lifestyle that we expect to have here," said McKnight.

A special Safe and Clean Streets meeting brought many different interested parties to the Carrillo Recreation center for a lunch session, including the Chamber of Commerce members.

They are united in the efforts that have made a significant different on the streets downtown, along the waterfront, and on Milpas Street recently.

Some business leaders were encouraged to engage those who are hanging around, to find out who they are and advise them that police will be called if any violations of the city's laws or  ordinances take place.

More cameras, fencing and foot patrols have also been added lately.

Recently some of the downtown benches were taken out for repairs and that's also reduced the areas where transients would hang out.

While the meeting was taking place, the police and fire departments were called to a reported gunshot victim downtown.  When they got to the man who called, they said he was not wounded and was just making the story up.  That man was taken to Cottage Hospital for a mental evaluation.

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