CVA’s Journey: A Year in Review of Transformation and Progress

By Beth Sullivan   |   July 9, 2024
From CBIDs to CVA, the directors have been on a journey toward making our beloved Coast Village better

Writing for a publication is a new adventure for me. I appreciate the opportunity from the Montecito Journal to share our recent and future activities and goals. 

The Birth of the Community Benefit Improvement District (CBID)

In 2023, the Coast Village Association (CVA) and I reflected on a year of renewed focus on Santa Barbara’s vibrant business and residential neighborhood. A significant milestone for the organization was the establishment of the Community Benefit Improvement District (CBID) in 2022. This achievement was a result of years of diligent effort by a group of stakeholders established with the sole purpose of enhancing the district. The process was quite involved, and in the end the property owners were given ballots to vote for (or against) the assessment. By the end of 2022, the vote came in and the CBID was formed. 

For those new to the concept of a CBID, it provides extra support and enhancements to a specific district, supplementing city offerings. This is funded by a modest assessment added to the annual property tax of district owners. The assessment is calculated based on property type, location, and other aspects for fairness. The funds collected are managed by entities like the CVA’s Board of Directors to promote the district’s vision and vitality.

The funds are allocated across five key categories:

1. Civil Sidewalks

2. District Identity and Placemaking 

3. Capital Improvements/Traffic Management

4. Administration

5. Contingency/Reserves

My journey with the CVA began in 2022, when I consulted on the CBID proposal for property owners. This ignited a spark within me to be part of the change from the ground up. In February 2023, I became the Executive Director, working hand in hand with the Board of Directors to enhance Coast Village Road. 

Upon stepping into my role, I noticed we were missing a business directory for the district. This opened a chance to meet managers, owners, and associates, as I began regular walks on the Road, collecting details to build a roster to better serve our businesses in the district. I immediately felt the support from this community with a heartwarming welcome, helpful feedback, encouragement, and active involvement in creating new paths. 

Strengthening Leadership and Vision

In 2023, the CVA operated with an interim Board of ten Directors. As we stepped into January 2024, we expanded our Board to twelve Directors, comprising property owners and community-at-large representatives from Coast Village Road. This strengthened leadership team is committed to driving forward districtwide projects and improvements that benefit the entire community.

While 2023 was an interim year, we held several meetings with the City of Santa Barbara’s Parks & Recreation and Public Works departments to address issues regarding the medians and roads. The City has committed to upgrading and repairing the infrastructure in 2024. The City has been instrumental in moving this project forward and quite pleasant to work with. 

Community Engagement and Social Responsibility

In addition to our district-wide initiatives, I joined Hands Across Montecito in its ongoing efforts to support moving the unhoused into safe housing that fits their individual needs. Our ongoing collaboration involves assisting those living without permanent housing to find better opportunities that support their well-being. 

We spent much of 2023 and continue into 2024 building a sense of place through rebranding, marketing, partnerships, collaborations, and press. We moved forward to create a new brand image that captures the essence of an upscale coastal village featuring a new logo, font, and imagery.

To further enhance our identity, we engaged a local firm to design a new website for Coast Village Road. Our new platform will inspire visitors to explore the essence of the Road and discover businesses while providing an enhanced experience. The basic structure is designed, and we are working toward delivering an end product very soon. 

Revitalizing Events and Celebrations

We revitalized events on Coast Village Road, pivotal to the district’s economic vitality and positive identity. Notably, “Ghost Village Road” set new records, drawing thousands of neighbors for treats, dining, and flash performances.

There were two “Meet and Greet” events for the businesses on the Road. The first, hosted by Local Montecito and Olive Mill Plaza, took place in May and was attended by close to 50 attendees. The resounding feedback was a call for more social gatherings. Our next event at the Rosewood Miramar allowed businesses to connect with the executive team and guest-service departments, fostering mutually beneficial relationships and collaborative opportunities.

In the fall, the inaugural “Coast Village Week” was launched, showcasing Coast Village Road’s unique offerings while offering promotions, trunk shows, pop-ups, art exhibits, book signings, and a grand raffle. The event received extensive media coverage, ensuring its success. This event will be happening again very soon…stay tuned.

The holiday season brought festive cheer with new decorations, Christmas trees, and holiday banners lining Coast Village Road, along with the eagerly awaited Sip & Stroll event, culminating in a tree-lighting ceremony. Santa – alongside Mayor Randy Rowse – counted down to the tree lighting. The Santa Barbara Junior High Madrigals serenaded attendees with Christmas carols, while the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony and Nutcracker characters from the Santa Barbara Festival Ballet added to the festive atmosphere, delighting hundreds of neighbors with a magical experience. 

Looking Ahead

In 2024, we have seen the addition of loading zones, and have paving scheduled for after Labor Day weekend. The big question is when landscape will be installed to beautify Coast Village Road as the gateway to our city. Planning and executing this will be a joint effort with the city. Our budget doesn’t cover the cost of such a project, so we are looking to raise funds and seek donations. As Andrew Firestone recently said, “sparks need fuel.” That fuel comes in many forms, like funding, rolling up our sleeves, and incentives to reach the end goal. It is my hope to have a landscape plan in the fall and begin installation sometime in 2025. 

Events and gatherings will continue in 2024, including Ghost Village Road, a Dog Days of Summer photo contest, Coast Village Week, and Holiday Sip & Stroll – all with fun additions of pop-ups, experiences, and raffles.

We have taken on cleaning the Butterfly tunnel, over and above the current maintenance. We continue to work with HAM, law enforcement, unhoused programs, and our partners for continued enhancement of the district.

It feels much like a whirlwind but also a fresh beginning of something wonderful. In working to propel the district forward, I feel strongly that our community benefits when our businesses succeed. Your input counts and I enjoy hearing from you – whether it’s praise, encouragement, or grievances – as we collectively navigate the ongoing construction, changes, and delightful happenings in our beautiful district. 

As we move forward, the Coast Village Association remains dedicated to fostering a strong sense of community and driving economic growth. We are poised for a future filled with exciting opportunities and continued success. So, buckle up as we all cruise through transformations and everything else that makes our beautiful district tick.

We look to the future with the hope of keeping our village charming and unique while building new elements.

Reach out: 
Check out our website:


You might also be interested in...