Cars Are Basic says it’s time to remove them from Coast Village Road
Retailers have had their say about the parklets lining Coast Village Road in Montecito.They want them gone so they’ll get lost customer parking spaces back.
Restaurateurs with parklets have had their say, too. They want the parklets to stay to seat patrons who prefer outdoor dining to being crammed indoors while COVID-19 lingers, and to earn enough money to ensure they keep operating.
Santa Barbara city officials have added their input, stating on the record that they’re working on a timeline for removing the parklets while enforcing parking rules in the meantime to keep CVR as clear as possible.
And while pedestrians and bicyclists have not chimed in yet, there have been reports that mothers have had to guide their bike-riding kids into traffic because some parklets are blocking painted bike lanes.
But what about motorists? Who speaks for them? Enter Cars Are Basic, a Santa Barbara nonprofit that supports motorists, fighting policies that might favor others at drivers’ expense.
Scott Wenz, CAB president, said the group stated almost a year ago that, with pandemic restrictions concerning indoor dining and pandemic masking gone, there was or is no need for on-street parklets.
“For almost six months now it is clear that Coast Village Road businesses have rebounded in a strong way as well as Upper Village,” he told the News-Press. “Starting in June with the tourist trade back, customer traffic is back, and the always difficult parking on weekends is back to ‘normal’” — i.e. get there early or walk.
“Parklets and the loss of precious parking interferes with the neighboring retail trade and ‘sit-down’ restaurant trade,” he said.
He supports the petition submitted by most of the businesses on Coast Village Road to have the city of Santa Barbara remove the parklets. Although considered part of Montecito, CVR is actually part of Santa Barbara and thus governed by city policies and regulations.
“Those objecting are businesses that have a bonus at the expense of their neighbors,” Mr. Wenz said. “Does this sound familiar? It should. This is an identical microcosm of State Street in Old Town Santa Barbara!”
While city officials have turned their attention to Coast Village Road for now, he said, they should also consider removing the parklets on lower State Street. “When do the businesses that were created and operating before the pandemic get back their parking and operating expectations?”
Unlike Montecito, he said, the ease of freeway access and expectation of street parking attract customers to Santa Barbara. Keeping lower State Street closed to motorists, possibly for years while the downtown master plan and resulting construction are completed, “discourages locals and retail from trying to survive,” he said.
“CAB calls for the council to remove the parklets,” Mr. Wenz said. “Will the businesses wanting the parklets survive? If so, this is the perfect answer to State Street closing … It is time to return to normalcy.”