2020: In two words, it sucked.
While the local business scene tried to keep up with restrictions and other problems imposed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the South Coast economy may never be the same. “New normal” is a distant hope.
It’s easy to blame all levels of government for not being prepared or able to cope well with a pandemic. However, government should not just throw money at problems.
Better planning is needed, which will require improved thinking by using science, research and logic. Those factors seemed to escape many officials who let politics and denial make the pandemic worse.
Sadly, many more people will die in the coming year, even with the arrival of vaccines. Even more businesses will close with every lockdown. But then, what type of economy would exist without caring for public health?
Still, non-government organizations and city and county officials must step up to the challenge of assisting businesses to get back on their feet and thrive. That is a must.
Part of the problem is that it appears many county and city elected officials have not suffered economically as business owners. Instead, they seem to be carrying on and operating as if they are always running for re-election.
Recently, a rain and hail storm struck the region. Somehow, many of the newly made parklets on State Street survived well. Too bad they were unoccupied during the Christmas season.
Look to the future
Look for more mergers and acquisitions during the coming year. The most recent acquisition was the sale of the State and Carrillo building in Santa Barbara that houses the Amazon technology center. It sold for about $38 million to Global Mutual, a London-based investment firm, according to Radius Group.
Hotel Californian developer Michael Rosenfeld sunk $20 million into what used to be the Saks Fifth Avenue building, which Amazon now calls its Santa Barbara Alexa development home.
Since so many hotel rooms are unoccupied these days, it makes sense that the owner of the most prominent seaside hotel in the area would unload at least one of his pricey downtown properties.
Despite the future uncertainties – and there are many – look for more deals like that to come in 2021. But to 2020, let’s say good riddance.
Posted Dec. 30, 2020. Edited by Aaron Paul Zacarias Estrada Rosales.