City of Santa Barbara requires alterations to allow for runoff
Downtown Santa Barbara restaurateurs have been scrambling to meet Thursday’s deadline to ensure adequate alterations are made to their outdoor dining parklets in order to allow stormwater runoff to flow freely down State Street, city officials said.
“All of the business facilities on State Street, between the 400 and 1300 blocks, are required to comply,” Sarah Clark, the city’s downtown parking and plaza manager, told the News-Press. “I’ve observed a number of State Street businesses making changes to their facilities to meet the stormwater requirements.”
She said businesses have taken different approaches to meet these requirements.
“Some are creating drainage channels under their platforms in the gutter area,” she said. “At least one has removed their platform and created a portable enclosure on the street that allows water to freely flow during storm events.”
The alterations couldn’t come at a better time, with light sprinkles in Santa Barbara Thursday morning and predictions of more rain to come.
Parklets that were in operation as of Sept. 20, 2022 are not required to be made portable, so many of the existing facilities are not, Ms. Clark said. Newly constructed parklets must be designed to be portable.
Councilmember Mike Jordan, a member of the Ad Hoc subcommittee appointed to make interim recommendations regarding the parklets and State Street, said previously his group thought it better to “nudge” restaurateurs into making their parklets portable.
Otherwise, he said, they might have to “chop holes” in their parklets in an emergency to allow stormwater runoff to flow through. “We’re playing with catastrophe with blockages on the street preventing stormwater runoff,” he said.
Public Works Director Cliford Maurer told the council previously that it’s to everyone’s advantage to make the parklets portable.
“If they want to keep the parklets not portable, it’s more of an issue for us in times of big storms,” he said. “We will ensure proper drainage down State Street. If it creates a problem, we will move them to ensure there is not flooding onto the sidewalks.”
Ms. Clark echoed his comments Thursday.
“In an emergency situation, if we observe a facility in the street that is creating a potential safety issue, we may move the facility,” she said. “If we have to remove a parklet from the right-of-way, for whatever reason, the owner may be billed to recover those costs.”
The city will be inspecting facilities on State Street today for compliance with the storm water requirements.
“Businesses that do not meet the requirements at that time will be issued citation notices, with follow-up inspections scheduled for next week,” she said.
At this point, there are 51 businesses with on-street operations in the Downtown Promenade, between the 400 and 1300 blocks of State Street, and approximately 59 parklets outside of that area.
A separate but just as important issue concerning the parklets deals with whether they are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Ms. Clark previously informed the council that six outdoor dining parklets remained outside of ADA compliance.
As of Thursday, only one business on the State Street Promenade remains non-compliant with the accessibility requirements, she said.
“That business will receive a notice to remove their facility from the street, but I do not yet know what that deadline will be,” Ms. Clark said. She did not identify the business or its address.