In 2017, the City of Santa Maria was awarded a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation and hired SERA to create a Downtown Urban Design Framework, with the goal of advancing the City’s 2015 Specific Plan. The resulting framework provides non-binding guidance for transforming downtown Santa Maria into a walkable destination and heart of the community. It addresses redevelopment opportunities, character, circulation and mobility, and parks and open space, in an integrated and cohesive manner.
A key feature of the framework is incrementally replacing an existing 70s-era, auto-oriented mall superstructure, and returning to the pedestrian-friendly street grid circa 1900. By re-establishing a network of local, pedestrian-friendly streets, Santa Maria has the opportunity to recreate an authentic sense of place that is true to its heritage. A connected network of public plazas and parks is also proposed, offering the community new public destinations in the heart of downtown. Each of the four downtown quadrants features a distinct open space, providing a variety of park uses. Additionally, gateway locations have been identified to improve branding and wayfinding.
The aspirational Downtown Urban Design Framework will inform future decision-making related to private and public development, providing a physical structure for a revitalized downtown that can become the cultural, civic and economical heart of Santa Maria: a great place to shop, work, learn, relax and live.