With ongoing construction for the Highway 101 widening project in Carpinteria, businesses along Santa Claus Lane are feeling the impacts of closed off-ramps and detours, which have been causing delays or making it confusing for customers to visit.
Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria is known for its shops and restaurants just off Highway 101, but with construction closing the South Padaro Lane/Santa Claus Lane and Evans Avenue off-ramps, the collection of businesses has become more difficult to access.
“Our numbers for July were equivalent to those in 2010,” said Sam Holcombe, owner of A-Frame Surf Shop. “We’ve definitely had frustrated customers.”
Holcombe said the detours can cause 20- to 30-minute delays, making it hard for customers to plan for surf lessons with the shop.
With trucks and other construction vehicles using the road for transport and parking, visitor parking is even more limited and business owners said more dirt is being brought in.
While businesses are still seeing customers during its peak summer season, business owner also expressed uncertainty about how they will be affected in the winter.
“When summer’s over, will people make the effort to come here?” Holcombe said.
Meanwhile, Will Ransone, owner of Padaro Beach Grill, said business has decreased 10% to 15%, but he is keeping a positive outlook on the project as a whole.
“[Construction is] definitely having an adverse effect on all the businesses here — the lack of parking, the detours, confusion on the detours and the signage. Everything’s covered in 2 inches of dirt,” Ransone said. “It is what it is. We all just have to work together and try to get through as best we can. That’s all we can do, because when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be better for everybody.”
The Highway 101 project in Carpinteria added peak-period carpool lanes in each direction of the freeway and will bring new bridges and intersection improvements. A Class I bikeway along Santa Claus Lane will be another result of the project, allowing bicyclists to easily travel farther into Carpinteria from Santa Claus Lane.
“Thankfully, people are still coming down here and dealing with the inconvenience so far,” Ransone said. “Hopefully, everybody else is hanging in there. Everyone’s concerned going into the winter, obviously, because this is a long-term project.”
Other businesses near Santa Claus Lane, such as Westerlay Orchids on Via Real, said they are affected by the construction, but probably in a different way, with more of the hardship being put on employees who have to deal with the detours while driving to and from work.
“We have always been off the beaten path, but this year finding us has been more challenging from the detours and construction,” Toine Overgaag of Westerlay Orchids said in a statement that emphasized that the shopping destination is still open.
Businesses along and adjacent to Santa Claus Lane are reassuring customers that they are open and welcoming customers during the construction and detours.
“The snag this summer is this hidden gem is harder to reach than ever due to construction detours on Highway 101,” Santa Claus Lane business representatives said in a press release. “Despite the loss of its freeway exits, The Lane itself remains open and ready for recreation and retail therapy.”
Construction for the Highway 101 project began in Carpinteria in spring 2020 and, according to the project’s website, is scheduled to continue with landscaping through summer 2023.
More information on the Highway 101 widening project with specific details and a timeline can be found here.
— Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.