SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Not all businesses are on the sidelines, or in a slow down mode in 2020. Despite the challenges from COVID-19, several new ideas have become a reality.
Almost weekly, the South Coast has a new original idea or a partnership come together.
Along the way, there's been a focus by government agencies to cut red tape and give applicants an express route for reviews. For help, you can go to The City of Santa Barbara Business Assistance.
Opening a new business during a pandemic has been viewed as risky, depending on what your services are.
"I just knew I had to do it," said Dr. Doug Katsev at Santa Barbara Eyecare.
"If you're brave enough to do it, you will do well."
Katsev is now in his recently opened facility on De la Vina Street and Calle Laureles. He calls it a great location where patients in the area can walk to his office because of the dense housing nearby.
It's also across from his surgery center.
After 30 years at Sansum Medical, he moved to this phase of his career and didn't just take over one space, he bought an entire building. That took place late last year, just before the coronavirus upended the economy.
But the plan did not go off course. With eye center at the site, he's added Goleta Valley Optical and keeps an architect tenant, the Cruz dance studio and his own barber at the Palms.
But to make this dream possible Katsev made a convincing presentation to the city. "I went to the city and said hey we've got a problem with COVID, and I have post-op patients and if I can't get this done, I will have nowhere to go to see these patients. They were very instrumental."
Even though some business owners have been told to hold off until the COVID-19 crisis is over, when it comes to medical services that can be viewed as a priority.
Still, there was a timeline and hurdles.
In modern times, much of the design and construction work was done through zoom meetings and some physical inspections.
"After going through the process they do try hard but you realize there are so many rules that they [city staff] have to follow," said Katsev.
This opening serves a growing patient population that has many needs, especially in one area.
"Cataract surgery is booming. Just because that's our population. Baby boomers have cataracts. Populations over 45 Lasik is not really the answer. It is really the lens," said Katsev. "So you need to have this equipment to make sure you have the right lens."
While some business plans have been fuzzy during these stressful times, this was one that's come into focus and serves a vital need.
For Katsev it was a goal he wasn't going to put off. "You've really got to do the right thing for the long haul."
Changes have been different depending on the area of town the applicant is coming from.
In downtown, the requests for expansions and openings come with a swift approval for parklets and patio designs. It's made a difference for restaurant business owners who have lost their inside seating due to pandemic rules.
Santa Barbara leaders have said they were working with all businesses who needed a "fast track" on their projects in areas of design reviews, signage, and occupancy permits.