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Santa Barbara City Council passes motion to continue outdoor promenade dining

Council favors extending promenade but must still consider future parade routes

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- Santa Barbara City Councilmembers spent the afternoon considering the future of parklets and parades along State Street.

Council members are in favor of State Street staying closed to vehicles and open to outdoor dining.

They want the street to remain vital and they plan to work on design guidelines and usage fees or rents for the restaurant parklet spaces.

An Economic Recovery Extension and Transition Ordinance was adopted in February 2022.

Now the council is looking to change the name of the ordinance to allow the promenade to remain through 2024 when a master plan will be complete.

Mayor Randy Rowse said there are 44 parklets along State Street and he wants the closures to work for everybody.

Rowse said people who don't think parades are important may not realize the Old Spanish Days Parade is a century old tradition.

He suggests portable parklets. He said without portability the city could be liable.

But some restaurant operators including Warren Butler of Chase Restaurant and Courthouse Tavern prefer the parklets they built to last.

Butler said the Courthouse Tavern benefited from the Solstice Parade's move to Santa Barbara Street.

He said Chase benefits when the parade goes up State Street.

Old Spanish Days historian David Bolton said future parades could detour in the blocks filled with parklets.

In the meantime, this summer's Old Spanish Days events will be held on Cabrillo Blvd.

South Coast Chamber of Commerce CEO Kristen Miller said members considered the open blocks of State Street and win win for businesses.

A majority of council members supported keeping a promenade.

Kristen Sneddon recommended a motion that passed four to three.

The motion confirms the city will continue with outdoor dining facilities on State Street, but any new structures will need to be portable. The motion will also bring the guidelines back to the city before they become standard. The motion directs the master planning committee to look at longer term circulation and changing the date.

The motion also asked the adhoc committee to do a "deeper dive" on bicycles and e-bikes along the streets and to continue to look at future parades and public safety in order to come up with a plan.

Her motion also clarifies that cleanliness lighting and security are are priority.

Mayor Rowse voted no saying the motion generally kicks decisions down the road.

He is concerned that parklet operations benefit only parts of the business community.

They also discussed making sure parklets follow Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. At least 16 are out of compliance. Corrections could be as simple as moving tables and chairs.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here

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