The Santa Barbara City Council gave an initial green light for the city to contract with Santa Barbara Airbus Inc. to ferry cruise ship passengers to various downtown locations once cruises resume.
In a 4-1 vote Tuesday afternoon, the council authorized the waterfront director to execute a contract with Santa Barbara Airbus for cruise ship passenger shuttles not to exceed $50,475. The contract is for the remainder of fiscal year 2022 with four one-year renewals to be extended at the city’s discretion.
Mike Wiltshire, the waterfront director, said only three proposals were submitted and maintained Santa Barbara Airbus was the best option.
“Our aim is to maintain flexibility. We are just sort of filling a need here with State Street closed and cruise ships coming back,” Mr. Wiltshire said. “We really wanted to provide this service so we can be flexible, and we would be happy to bring it back to you (the city council) a year from now or whenever is appropriate.”
Councilmember Sneddon was the lone no vote on the proposal, citing environmental concerns with both the cruise ships and the buses combined.
The item was on the consent calendar but was pulled for separate comment and vote during the weekly agenda meeting Tuesday.
The Santa Barbara Cruise Ship Program has been paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the last ship visiting on March 4, 2020, but is expected to start up again under new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has since established a Conditional Sailing Order, which requires at least 95% of crew and passengers be fully vaccinated (defined as the non-booster shots) as well as testing mandates for non-vaccinated individuals before coming to shore, according to a presentation given to the council last week.
There are 31 cruise ship calls for Santa Barbara on the schedule for 2022 and 27 for 2023, according to the presentation.
The city has budgeted $500,000 in revenue in cruise line passenger fees for the upcoming fiscal year. (The waterfront charges $7 per passenger on a cruise ship’s manifest — even if the individual does not come to shore.)
Cruise ship calls are limited to September through May, considered to be non-peak business seasons. Ships are anchored off the coast of Santa Barbara, and passengers are brought to the city on tenders.
Additionally Tuesday, the city council held a fairly quick hearing on the renewal of Downtown and Old Town Business Improvement District assessments for 2022. In these business improvement districts, merchants pay for marketing and promotional services for downtown businesses through license fees, location and business type.
The assessment revenue is collected by the city and given to Downtown Santa Barbara, a nonprofit that operates the improvement districts.
There are no proposed changes to the assessment rates or boundaries for the Downtown and Old Town Improvement Districts for 2022.
The council adopted a resolution renewing the assessments for the area for 2022.
As first reported by KEYT-TV Tuesday, Chick-fil-A has filed a conditional use permit application Monday for a new location in an unincorporated area between Goleta and Santa Barbara.
The city council has been grappling with whether to declare the State Street Chick-fil-A — which is less than three miles away from the potential new location, according to KEYT — a public nuisance due to its lengthy drive-through lines.
At a meeting earlier this month, the council instructed the city attorney to prepare a draft ordinance with nuisance findings while allowing the fast food restaurant to continue work to remedy the situation. email: email@example.com