Update on Parklet Time Extension
In response to our reporting in last week’s edition that the City of Santa Barbara is considering adopting an ordinance that would extend operation of restaurant parklets on Coast Village Road until December 31, 2023, we heard from several local business owners and Montecito residents, all with differing opinions, who said they would like the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.
The original Emergency Economic Recovery Ordinance was adopted in May 2020 in response to the emerging pandemic, allowing for restaurants to add outdoor seating without licensing requirements, as a tool to allow businesses to survive when they weren’t able to open indoors. That ordinance was then extended through March 8, 2022, allowing the parklets and outdoor dining throughout city limits to remain, despite the official “reopening” of California on June 15, 2021.
Now, Santa Barbara City staff is recommending to the City Council to adopt an Economic Recovery Extension and Transition Ordinance, which would provide an additional 22 months for businesses within city limits – including on Coast Village Road – to operate expanded outdoor business facilities and parklets.
When the parklets were first built on Coast Village Road in 2020, members of the community raised concerns about accessibility for those with disabilities, impact to surrounding businesses, emergency access, and cohesive aesthetics, and City staff brought the issues to City Council to discuss some possible changes to guidelines to address some of the concerns. Since the inception of the parklets, travel on sidewalks on Coast Village Road has become more difficult, and some retail businesses told us at the time that outdoor dining and parklets made their businesses less visible. The parklets utilize roughly 27 parking spots along Coast Village Road, which some business owners contend is a problem for access to other businesses along the road.
City planner Jason Harris tells us that next week there will be two opportunities for public comment on the ordinance extension: at noon on Tuesday, January 25, the Ordinance Committee will review the proposal, and later in the afternoon the full City Council will consider adopting the ordinance. Links to both meetings can be found on the calendar at www.santabarbaraca.gov/CAP. Questions and comments can also be sent to outdoordining@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.