Parklets To Remain Until End of 2023
The Santa Barbara City Council has adopted an ordinance that will provide an additional 22 months, until December 31, 2023, for businesses within city limits –including on Coast Village Road – to operate expanded outdoor business facilities and parklets. The ordinance also authorizes the continued closure of downtown State Street to vehicles while regulatory changes and the State Street Master Plan are in development. Some businesses will have to modify their outdoor dining areas, in order to accommodate a 20-foot lane on State Street for emergency vehicles. The current emergency authorization allowing for the temporary use of outdoor business areas on the State Street Promenade, on private property, and use of parklets in on-street parking spaces was set to expire on March 8.
According to staff, the allowance for businesses to expand temporarily outdoors (adopted in May 2020) was a critical response to keep those businesses operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension to continue to allow businesses to operate expanded outdoor facilities will help ensure their continued success, according to planner Jason Harris. More than 200 businesses have benefited from temporarily expanding the business areas outdoors.
Over a dozen speakers were given a chance to speak at the meeting, which included many downtown restaurant operators and retail business owners. Most were in favor of the extension, with the exception of two retailers who said the parklets have a negative effect on retail businesses. One business owner on Coast Village Road said Montecito’s lower village is very different than downtown Santa Barbara, and should be considered separately. “We had a shortage of parking before COVID, and this has made it much worse,” he said, noting that the parklets along the road have reduced the number of parking spaces by 30.
The Economic Recovery Extension and Transition Ordinance was passed unanimously by the City Council, with several of the them noting that the community at large want the parklets and outdoor dining to stay indefinitely.