SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The COVID-19 relief that created the State Street promenade is now part of a long range plan that may require business owners to comply with new regulations and pay a fee.
Currently, businesses have been able to use their frontage on the street and, in some cases, space on their left and right with permission of those adjacent businesses. There's been no cost for the use of the street by the city and only basic design regulations including lighting, chairs, color patterns, and decorations.
That is likely going to change.
Tuesday, the city will discuss what the area will look like in the months ahead and after the pandemic urgency ends.
The outside tables and chairs were allowed when health rules restricted indoor dining.
That dining is back and the balance of outdoor and indoor dining is a new dynamic for the city with the use of parklets and patios.
Overall, the promenade has been an encouraging scene for many local residents and visitors.
The city is considering a still-to-be-determined fee for the street space, along with a requirement to have the dining areas become portable for regular deep cleaning projects.
The city says portability would mean moving the structures without motorized equipment.d
It could also allow for parades to return by June of 2023, but it's unclear whether animals or motorized vehicles will be allowed. If they are not, that would prevent the Old Spanish Days parade from using its traditional route.
This year, the Fiesta parade can not use State Street because of the promenade set up and a route on
Cabrillo Blvd. for El Desfile Historico (the Fiesta parade) and the Children's parade has been mapped out.
Shopper Julie Eggli from Solvang was strolling the street on Monday and said, "after the COVID settles down I think we should keep it. (the promenade). I think they are good as they are I like them. I think they are great. I don't think they need to charge for them."
Bike rider Mateo Obando said, "I love how it's open and you are allowed to walk down. There's a lot more space. Way more people. I love how you can have parades down here and protests."
One waterfront business owner says he is closely aware of the possible promenade changes.
Garrick Hyder is with SB Boat Charters and said, "maybe like a simply yearly permit nothing too crazy though. It has already been hard enough on the businesses to cope in the last few years. It helps the economy a lot."
When it comes to the cleaning efforts, he says, "maybe don't charge them and you are in charge of cleanliness and the health inspector is in charge of that." His idea is for the businesses to clean their patio area, including the street in lieu of a fee for use.
The city is also looking at using some federally-provided recovery funds for other aesthetic improvements including new lighting strings over a nine block area and some adjacent areas. This would be combined with some city Measure C sales tax funding approved for these types of projects, along with roads, sidewalks and the future new police station.
There's also an expected review of design materials for the patios and issues involving amplification of speakers along with the placement of outside TV's.
Public comments on these changes will be heard at the meeting.
Special signs are up downtown with a QR code linking to the public to the staff report.