SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Correction citations have been issued in Santa Barbara this month to businesses that are illegally using the sidewalk against the city rules.
Most had been putting tables, chairs, planters and other items out as part of a COVID-19 recovery plan from the city that was part of an emergency response during the inside dining ban.
With the return of inside dining, that's changing.
In addition there's been an urgent concern about the violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access. Several businesses had furniture and other items that blocked access for those who had mobility and vision challenges.
Santa Barbara City Administrator, Paul Casey, told city leaders changes had to be made, "so that we can insure that the sidewalks are open."
At an early meeting, legal action was another concern, if the ADA rules were violated.
Parking Programs Supervisor Sara Clark said the goal was to clear, "the sidewalks of all unpermitted items."
She said compliance has come in different forms. "It's a little bit of a moving target," said Clark when she found out those who were given a notice, would remedy the issue, but on a second inspection they had gone back to their previous use of the sidewalk, creating a violation again.
The week of July 12, 150 businesses in the city were visited. 60 were given citations. "Nearly everyone complied," said Clark.
About ten have yet to follow up with the removal of the items. The notices gave the businesses one day to make the correction.
The follow up would be an administrative citation from the city.
The next inspections and actions will be to the parklets and patios for full access compliance.
Santa Barbara's Blue Water Grill on Cabrillo Boulevard near Stearns Wharf has enjoyed the opportunity to serve guests outside on the sidewalk and on the edge of Mission Creek. "We pretty much have an ocean view from every area of the restaurant but people do want to be outdoors mostly, especially now that it is summer," said Manager Annia Bonifaz.
One popular area had to be cleared out, but another was reconfigured to create a new outside seating grid in a patio area.
"It started with about ten four-tops that were set up on the sidewalk with umbrellas. We had to take those away unfortunately, " she said.
The inside dining area on Helena St. is approved until March under the city rules. The restaurant is planning to add more decor for the dining guests to enjoy. Bonifaz said, "I would love to add some lights on the inside of the tent and maybe add some turf."
She also said, the restaurant is very busy and they have openings for several staff positions. That's similar to many restaurants in town this summer.
One business owner was issued a violation notice before they had been cleared to open a new restaurant.
Another address in violation, still had chairs and tables out as of Wednesday night.
At least one business owner said the action was too much, too fast at a time when businesses that struggled for months during the pandemic, losing money, were just now starting to recover.
City Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez asked the city for some clarification about the rules and correction notices after businesses began receiving the violations. Some thought it would be best to deal with this issues after a special committee was picked to discuss some of the promenade and State Street plans. That 15-person committee was chosen Tuesday.
For more information about the temporary outside dining rules go to: City of Santa Barbara.