Santa Barbara’s preeminent courthouse clock tower is now accessible to all those who want to experience the unique, 360-degree vantage of the American Riviera.
Bonnie Elliott arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse’s historic observation tower for the first time in 30 years. Left to right: Ken Oplinger, Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region; Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal; access advocate Bonnie Elliott; and Todd Edwards, Vernon Edwards Constructors.
The reopening coincides with the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. President George H.W. Bush signed the act into law on July 26, 1990.
“Historic structures are often the last to have access improved, yet offer the most impressive architectural experiences and views. This project is another important milestone in the County’s continuing effort to improve access for all residents and visitors, particularly to this panoramic bird’s eye view of Santa Barbara” said Barry Stotts, long-time access advocate with Community Access Network.
For 40 years, the tower elevator stopped short of the observation tower landing. A short series of steps had to be climbed to reach the top level, making sweeping vistas inaccessible to people with mobility challenges.
Now, with the seven-month tower elevator modernization project complete, all residents and visitors have access to the stunning views of Santa Barbara that the historic clock tower provides.
“As docents, we’ve long looked forward to the day when we can tell all visitors, especially those with mobility challenges, that they can access the observation level by elevator,” said Dana Machalleck, President, Santa Barbara Courthouse Docents. “With this improvement project complete, telling visitors there is limited access is happily a thing of the past.”
The elevator modernization project is being paid for by a combination of federal stimulus dollars and bond money for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance work.
For more information about the historic courthouse, visit www.santabarbaracourthouse.org.