Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 6:46 am | Fair 45º


Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission Shoots Down Smoke-Free Sign Program

Panel members say proposed signs don't fit with El Pueblo Viejo district downtown

No-smoking sign Click to view larger
The city of Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission on Friday snuffed out the city staff’s proposal to install about about 75 signs in the El Pueblo Viejo downtown district (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

What might be Santa Barbara's biggest obstacle to becoming smoke free?

Not the tobacco addicts. It could be the members of the Historic Landmarks Commission.

The committee this week snuffed out the city staff's proposal to install about about 75 signs in the El Pueblo Viejo downtown district. The members said the signs did not fit the downtown's aesthetic guidelines.

“We have extensive guidelines of what signs are supposed to look like," said committee chairman William La Voie. "Santa Barbara has a long tradition of a very great signage program. We are the El Pueblo Viejo. We are not Los Angeles. We are not Beverly Hills. We are Santa Barbara. We are creating old Spain in America. That sign doesn’t even begin to belong in El Pueblo Viejo."

La Voie cut off the city's graphic designer, Alison Grube, refusing to allow her to respond to his comments. 

Santa Barbara was awarded an $878,000 grant from the California Department of Justice to fund new anti-smoking signage, public education outreach and enforcement activities from June 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020.

Santa Barbara designated itself a smoke-free city in 2017. The money will also help pay for additional police officer staffing to patrol the downtown and provide new downtown ambassadors to help with enforcement.

The city wants to intstall the signs primarily on State Street, but also throughout the city. The 84-page El Pueblo Viejo Design Guidelines outline rules for everything from balconies and awnings to fountains and finials.

Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the City Administrator, said the city designed the signs to match its website and marketing materials, not necessarily the El Pueblo Viejo guidelines. 

"We designed an image of the city of Santa Barbara as smoke free, and we used the design and look that appears on the city's website," Johnson said.

This is the city-branded look that appears on all of our Power Point presentations that are made to the public."

The city plans to install the signs at mid-block, and replace some of the city's "no skateboading signs."

“We don’t want to add excessive sign clutter,” Johnson said. 

Steve Hausz, committee member, said the signs don't have to match the city's web site. 

"This does not fit EPV at all," Hausz said. "It is clutter. It is so not Santa Barbara."

Committee member Anthony Grumbine also remarked that downtown Santa Barbara doesn't need a new identity.

"We're kind of already branded," Grumbine said. 

The panel told Johnson to come back in two weeks after taking time to "study" and "carefully consider" the EPV guidelines. 

The grant will pay for the fabrication and installation of signage in parks, beaches, sidewalks in commercial areas, and city-owned parking structures and lots.

Money will also pay for a marketing campaign, bilingual videos and announcements aired via radio, movie theater previews, and social media. 

In Santa Barbara, smoking is prohibited at beaches, parks, sports fields, open spaces and trails, sidewalks and paseos citywide in commercial and residential areas, city parking structures and lots, Stearns Wharf, outdoor restaurant patios before 10 p.m., outdoor recreational areas and sports facilities, community centers, and library plazas and events open to the public.

Smoking is defined to include tobacco, marijuana, and electronic vaping devices.

Johnson tried to stress the sign program's overall goal — to reduce smoking.

“We’re trying to limit public exposure second-hand smoke,” Johnson said. “In the downtown area cigarette butts are the most common type of litter.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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