Solvang City Council to discuss adding outdoor seating
The streets of Solvang could soon see an increase in outdoor seating for restaurants, bars and wine tasting rooms.
The Solvang City Council will hold a special meeting today to discuss adopting an ordinance to increase seating capacity within the city’s Tourist Related Commercial District.
Solvang’s Municipal Code requires process and approval of a full development plan for most improvements within the TRC zone. The staff report for the meeting notes that an exception is provided for minor alterations or additions defined as being no more than 300 square feet in a two-year period. The city Planning Department’s implementation of that particular section has been “problematic” in recent years, and certain portions of the Municipal Code are in conflict for processing development plans.
The proposed ordinance would make only minor revisions to the city’s existing code provisions. The revisions include clarifications that the exception is for discretionary waiver rather than an additional right, ensuring the exception is for addition, alteration or replacement to an existing structure, as well as adding provisions to waive the development plan process for outdoor spaces for restaurants, bars, cocktail lounges or wine tasting rooms, which includes eliminating up to two parking spaces.
The revisions would also confirm that the business may request waiver of additional parking spaces by the city council, pursuant to the in-lieu parking fee provisions, according to the staff report.
In May, the council voted unanimously on an urgency version of the ordinance due to the need to allow outdoor expansion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several businesses received approvals and implemented outdoor seating changes.
City staff now recommends the council adopt a second reading of the non-urgency version of the ordinance.
In July, the city’s Planning Commission was presented with the non-urgency ordinance, which was adopted via a resolution recommending the council also adopt the ordinance.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act, the proposed ordinance is exempt from CEQA as specific actions to mitigate an emergency. It is also exempt from CEQA because of the construction of new, smaller structures and the conversion of existing small structures from one to another, the staff report reads.
If the council elects to amend or not adopt the proposed ordinance, approvals granted under the urgency ordinance would remain vested, including approved parking waivers. The staff report notes that the “problematic language” within certain sections of the city’s Municipal Code would remain without clarification for future projects.
Today’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Remote and in-person participation options will be offered. To watch the livestream, visit www.cityofsolvang.com/youtube.