Amendments extended through fall 2023
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday extended temporary ordinance amendments that will maintain special COVID-19 provisions for businesses through October 2023.
In June 2020, the Board of Supervisors voted to implement regulations that temporarily suspended compliance with certain requirements of “approved permits, legal non-conforming uses and a hardship time extension” to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to the county’s Planning & Development Department.
These regulations allowed many business owners to expand capacity and serve customers outdoors during the pandemic, which kept businesses up and running in a COVID-safe way. The amendments allow for the temporary expansion of capacity, the temporary expansion of existing capacity for nonconforming uses and the temporary construction of structures, including those built for weather and sun protection, according to the Planning & Development Department’s presentation on Tuesday.
These initial COVID-19 amendments were supposed to expire on Dec. 16, 2020, though the board voted in November 2020 to extend the expiration until the supervisors terminated the local emergency from COVID-19 or when the provisions were terminated by an ordinance amendment.
However, with the delta variant gaining traction in the county, staff from the county’s Planning & Development Department recommended supervisors extend the amendment once again, but this time, through the fall of 2023.
“Given the development of the delta variant and the COVID-19 pandemic extending beyond what we thought it would and the need for economic recovery following the pandemic, we felt that it was important to go ahead and extend these provisions and create greater flexibility for the businesses operating in the county,” Lisa Plowman, the director of the department, told supervisors Tuesday.
After a brief discussion, supervisors voted in favor of extending the amendments, setting a new expiration date for Oct. 31, 2023. The board’s approval amends the Montecito Land Use and Development Code, the Article II Coastal Zoning Ordinance, and the County Land Use and Development Code, according to a board letter from Planning & Development.
During the board’s discussion Tuesday, Supervisor Joan Hartmann called the amendments a “salvation for many businesses.” She noted that she’s visited multiple businesses that have benefited from expanding capacity — particularly outdoors — during the pandemic.
“(The amendments) are a bit of a silver lining because I visited a number of wineries where they’ve expanded the outdoor space, and with the food they find that people linger, stay longer (and) want to know more about that particular place … so that’s been really exciting, and they’ve developed outdoor spaces that are really beautiful,” Ms. Hartmann said. “It’s one of the positive things that has resulted from this era, and P&D really helped to make that happen.”