Over a mile of downtown Carpinteria roads will be completely car-less on Saturday, April 1—populated instead by bodies dancing, making street art, tai chi, bicycling, jazzercising and just standing around enjoying the company of friends and neighbors. Open Streets, a brand new concept for Carpinteria, will close portions of 8th Street, 9th Street and Linden Avenue to promote public health, active transportation and community by transforming streets into a public park for a day.
“Just about anything goes in the street—except cars,” said Kent Epperson of Traffic Solutions, which is organizing the event along with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and Global Good Impact.
Many months of planning have gone into the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. event, and over 80 diverse free activities for people of all ages and abilities will take place along the 1-mile route. On Feb. 27, the Carpinteria City Council approved the Open Streets permit, which includes closure of three connected streets—Linden Avenue (from 9th Street to Carpinteria State Beach), 8th Street (eastbound from Linden Avenue to Palm Avenue), and 9th Street (westbound from Linden Avenue to Reynolds Avenue).
Outreach for the event has involved contacting residents along the closed streets to inform them that their cars cannot be parked on the roadside nor driven on the street during the eight-hour event. Parking lots at Aliso School, Carpinteria Middle School and Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main will be open to the public starting at 7 p.m. on Friday for off-site parking.
Open Streets events are held in cities around the nation. The organizers of Carpinteria’s event have orchestrated Open Streets in Santa Barbara for the past three years. Having gained much experience with the events along Cabrillo Boulevard, Epperson said, “We felt like it was time to share the magic.”
Invited by the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce to consider a local event, the Open Streets crew did its research and came to recognize that Carpinteria’s small beach town atmosphere would be a good fit for an event that emphasizes outdoor activities and community togetherness. “The event is really about the people themselves,” said Epperson.
The price tag for the event looks to be $25,000 to $30,000, most of which will be funded by Measure A monies dedicated to bike and pedestrian projects. Santa Barbara County and Yardi are also major contributors. The logistics of closing 1 mile of streets account for much of the cost; advertising and a part-time event coordinator salary are other components.
Epperson said that for people in their middle age and older, the event can feel like turning back the hands of the clock to a time when childhood came with more freedom to bike and walk all over town. It’s uniquely uplifting, he said, to use roadways that are typically reserved for cars as recreational spaces. “People rediscover their city in a new way without all the cars,” he said.
The biggest challenge with an Open Streets event, Epperson said, is getting the word out about the event to reduce the shock and inconvenience of the road closures. The people who tend to complain on the day of the event are the ones who are not participating and are trying to navigate the road closures. Epperson said, “They get the downside without the upside.”
For a detailed Open Streets map and schedule of activities, visit carpopenstreets.org
Carpinteria Open Street Hubs
Over 1 mile of downtown streets will be closed to cars, and along the Open Streets route there will be several activity hubs including the following:
9th Street bridge over Franklin Creek: Carpinteria Girls & Boys Club will host fun youth activities.
West end of 9th Street (near Aliso School): Climbing wall
4900 block of 9th Street: Activities led by The Gym Next Door
800 block of Linden Avenue: Art expo coordinated by Carpinteria Arts Center
8th Street/Linden Ave. intersection: Main Stage with coordinated activities like Zumba and Jazzercise.
Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main: Kids activities coordinated by Carpinteria Family School, including a fire engine on display and a firefighter boot camp.
7th Street/Linden Ave. intersection: Dancefloor for various dances like salsa and tango.
Linden Avenue beach parking lot: wellness fair