COVID-19 Provisions Extended

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   August 19, 2021

Last week, the Montecito Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the county’s Board of Supervisors to extend local ordinance provisions related to COVID-19. 

The provisions have been in place since last summer, when the Board of Supervisors approved the Temporary Development Standard Suspension Ordinance Amendments to implement regulations regarding the temporary suspension of compliance with certain requirements of approved permits, legal non-conforming uses, and a hardship time extension in order to protect public health and support a phased re-opening of Santa Barbara County in a manner that limits the spread of the virus. The ordinance that established the temporary authorization was to expire on December 16, 2020, or when the proclaimed Santa Barbara County Local Emergency from COVID-19 is terminated, whichever was earlier. The expiration date was revised in November 2020 and was changed to when the Board of Supervisors declares the proclaimed Santa Barbara County Local Emergency from the COVID-19 virus is terminated. 

Now, the proposed ordinance amendments will extend the expiration of the temporary allowances to June 30, 2023, which will allow the COVID-19 provisions to continue after the Santa Barbara County Local Emergency from the COVID-19 virus is terminated to support ongoing economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, according to the staff report.

“There is a desire that if the board chooses to remove the Local Emergency Ordinance, that these provisions will stay in place to promote economic recovery,” said Jeff Wilson, assistant director with Santa Barbara County.

The ordinance amendments are designed to temporarily allow non-residential uses for outdoor areas to ensure proper social distancing or other public health requirements. The ordinance amendments would authorize the temporary suspension of compliance with the project description and/or conditions of approval related to the following development standards: setbacks; site coverage maximums; minimum open space; parking and loading standards; signs; the requirement that uses shall occur within a completely enclosed building; restrictions on uses in the right of way; limitations on food service at wineries and tasting rooms in the coastal zone; and/or other development standards as determined by the director to be necessary for the protection of public health related to COVID-19. 

Wilson explained that the ordinance provisions in Montecito are utilized by restaurants and food service businesses in the Upper Village, as the Lower Village is governed by city of Santa Barbara rules. Other uses allowed by the provisions include lightened rules related to outdoor events by other entities, like churches or schools. 

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the extension in September.


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