Santa Barbara City Council to consider rigorous guidelines on parklets
This Tuesday, members of the Santa Barbara City Council will consider adopting more rigorous guidelines for parklets in the State Street promenade.
Currently, restaurants and bars on State Street are permitted to use the public right-of-way for outdoor seating until March 8, 2022. While the question of a permanent promenade remains, city staff is recommending modifications to the guidelines for parklets to improve management of them.
The item comes to council due to concerns from the public regarding equity of access for all people, impacts to retail businesses and balancing the use of the right-of-way with the city’s aesthetic standards, according to the staff report.
A couple of recommendations are proposed to be effective immediately: no new fixed outdoor business enclosures and no new construction or installation of parklets in the public right-of-way. A proposed guideline to be effective July 9 includes clearing all sidewalks of tables and other fixtures not approved pre-pandemic.
Finally, staff is proposing that, effective July 22, all overhead elements such as roofs, canopies and tents must be removed, and all existing business enclosures must use approved colors, eliminate plastic patio furniture and add plantings to screen enclosures.
In other business, the two-year financial plan for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, along with the operating and capital budget for fiscal year 2022, are coming before the council for a vote on adoption.
The recommended general fund budget for fiscal year 2022 includes total revenues of $166.2 million and total expenditures of $167.5 million, which results in a $1.3 million operating deficit requiring the use of reserves.
“General fund revenues are showing signs of recovery following COVID,” the staff report reads. “However, sales tax and transient occupancy tax revenues, in particular, in FY 2021, were far below pre-COVID levels and will continue to rebound in FY 2022 and beyond. General fund expenditures continue to increase annually as a majority of expenses come from staff and associated benefits and pension costs.”
Furthermore, the staff report details, the FY 2022 baseline budget projected a net operating deficit of approximately $8 million, so the recommended budget proposed addressing this deficit by identifying departmental expenditure reductions totaling $6.3 million in FY 2022 and requiring a minimal use of reserves. City staff recommended revenue and other adjustments totaling $1.1 million in FY 2022, resulting in an adjusted operating deficit and use of reserves of $0.2 million — “nearly a balanced operating budget.”
The council will revisit an item that was continued from last week’s meeting — specifically, increasing the inclusionary requirement outside the Central Business District to help meet housing needs for moderate-income households. The vote was split 3 to 3 last Tuesday, due to Councilwoman Meagan Harmon’s absence at the start of the meeting.
A few public hearings are on the docket for Tuesday’s meeting. A consent public hearing will be held to consider protests to the Parking and Business Improvement Area Annual Assessment Report for FY 2022.
Then, in two more public hearings, the council will consider the appeal of the Architectural Board of Review’s final approval for a 21-unit, mixed-use development at 825 De La Vina St., and the appeal of the Planning Commissions’ disapproval of the development agreement for Paseo Nuevo.