Emergency Ordinance Extended
On Tuesday, February 23, the Santa Barbara City Council extended its Emergency Economic Recovery Ordinance until March 8, 2022. The ordinance, which was adopted last May, continues the temporary closure of certain streets, on-street parking, and public parking to allow outdoor dining and outdoor business uses in the public right-of-way or on private property, which includes Coast Village Road in Montecito.
Restaurants and eateries, which are at the heart of the City’s economy and community, were shut down for in-person dining nearly a year ago thanks to the statewide stay-at-home order enacted on March 19, 2020. These businesses were permitted to operate with take-out and delivery service for two months before the City Council authorized the City Administrator in May 2020 to utilize his emergency authority to temporarily suspend regulations in order to allow outdoor dining on private property and in public parking areas, as well as close State Street for on-street parking in order to allow food service businesses to “spread out” and operate outdoor dining. An official ordinance was adopted on May 27, and was set to expire in September 2020, just after Labor Day. The Council extended the ordinance in August, with it set to expire this week.
Staff recommended that the Council further extend the ordinance through September 8, 2021, but the Council took it a step further and extended it until March 8, 2022.
Restaurants are still currently restricted from operating indoors due to the pandemic, and the City Council has revised the requirements for parklets, which dozens of restaurants have built to accommodate additional outdoor dining. Pre-approval for the parklets is now required, and the City intends on paying greater attention to appropriate aesthetic design and required accessibility. A new set of guidelines has been released regarding parklets, which includes guidelines for overhead structures and heating elements, necessary during this time of the year. The guidelines discuss paint colors, umbrella and furniture style and color, and other aesthetic guidelines.
For the most up-to-date information on parklets, visit SantaBarbaraCA.gov.
Montecito Association Opposes New Housing Bill
A new housing bill making its way through the legislature is SB 9, which will have significant impacts on the semi-rural nature of Montecito. The bill is the newest version of SB1120, which failed last year on a technicality. The controversial bills are in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s goal to add millions of housing units in California; they would allow the building of multi-family housing units in single family residential zones, via ministerial approvals, which could lead to a gross over development in neighborhoods throughout California.
In addition to drastically reducing the red tape to build multiple units on a property, SB 9 also allows lot splitting, encouraging developers to buy properties, demolish them, and build six to eight new housing units. The fear is that developers will be incentivized to buy properties in Montecito at an elevated price and tear them down in order to build multiple units. This would not encourage affordable housing, which is the intent behind SB 9. “They’d be able to get eight houses on your lot,” said MA executive director Sharon Byrne to another board member who reported they’d been offered an all-cash, quick-close offer on their property by a developer. SB 9 does not require that improvements be made to local infrastructure to accommodate more residents, including water and sewer infrastructure, law enforcement and school capacity, road infrastructure, and more. Schools could have enrollment double or more, reported MA Land Use Chair Chad Chase.
The Montecito Association voted on Tuesday to hire former state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson as a legislative analyst and advocate to help defeat this bill, and others making their way down the pipeline. There was also a healthy discussion to organize an upcoming townhall meeting to make the community aware of the issues, and a suggestion was brought up to combine efforts with other California communities to gain support in opposing the bill. “I don’t see how we can battle the state with any sort of effectiveness; we don’t have enough mouths,” said Chase. “We need to show that there is a popular support that the bill should address the needs of individual communities.”
“I have personal, grave concerns over people coming here for the wrong reasons. I think we have to do a huge amount of education to remind people why they came here in the first place,” said MA president Megan Orloff. “This has the potential to ruin our neighborhoods,” added board member Cindy Feinberg.
Discussions will continue on a townhall meeting, and Sharon Byrne will have much more on this issue in next week’s edition, including a letter that was approved by the MA Board to send to State Senator Monique Limón.
The MA asserts that SB 9, in addition to failing to address the issue of affordable housing, also poses great fire risk to our community, ignores the issue of future debris flows, and reduces open space in the community. “We have numerous options for adding housing without irreversibly ruining existing neighborhoods. SB 9 creates more problems and doesn’t provide for what is truly needed: affordablehousing. We really want to encourage creative thinking to provide for this urgent need, rather than engaging in a cookie-cutter approach and trickle-down economics in the hope that prescribing higher densities in the single family zone districts will win this fight for housing,” the letter reads. We’ll have much more on this issue in future editions.
During Community Reports, Montecito Union School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Ranii reported that MUS has had no transmission of COVID-19, and that nearly 100% of the teachers at the school are in the process of getting vaccinated against the virus. Dr. Amy Alzina reported a similar situation at Cold Spring School, and added that community members can get tested for COVID-19 on the campus on Thursdays. (Call Cold Spring School for more information including times and cost.)
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi reported on recent crimes, including a burglary on Sinaloa at Sheffield; a drunk in public on El Bosque; mail theft on El Bosque; vehicle break-in at Cold Spring trailhead; bikes stolen from a vehicle parked out front of the Rosewood Miramar; and packages stolen from Danielson Road.
Darcel Elliott from First District Supervisor Das Williams’ office reported that the supply of vaccines is increasing, with the County currently vaccinating residents that are 65 years old and older, educators, child care workers, workers in the food and farm industries, and emergency service workers. “We are making steady progress,” Elliott said, adding that the County expects to move to the Red Tier by the end of the month, which will mean that businesses including gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and others can open indoors with modifications.
Montecito Water General Manager Nick Turner reported that the District is undertaking a 3/4-mile water main replacement project on upper Hot Springs Road. The main dates back to 1923; its replacement is expected to take several months.
The next Montecito Association Board of Directors meeting is on Tuesday, April 13. Visit www.montecitoassociation.org for more information.