State Street businesses must comply with updated fire lane regulations by Tuesday
Businesses along the State Street Promenade have until Tuesday to update outdoor dining and merchandise structures to comply with new fire lane boundaries.
A temporary ordinance put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for businesses to operate outdoor facilities in the road for dining, shopping or other activities.
An updated version of the ordinance — unanimously approved by the Santa Barbara City Council last month — mandated outdoor businesses must ensure structures leave at least 20 feet of the center of the roadway clear for emergency and fire vehicles. Outdoor businesses must also leave an unobstructed vertical clearance of at least 13.5 feet for emergency services.
The updated ordinance gave businesses a March 8 deadline to comply.
“We’re starting to see some businesses with early compliance, which we’re extremely thankful for, and next week we’ll be doing reviews,” Jessica Grant, the interim Public Works downtown manager, told the News-Press.
“Some businesses have complied already, and for some, it’s just a few inches that they have to cut back. Other businesses, they’ll have to cut a few feet,” Ms. Grant continued.
According to Ms. Grant, about 45 businesses have outdoor facilities on State Street.
Previously, businesses had been instructed to leave at least 14.5 feet for the fire lane, she said.
Even with the impending modifications, most businesses will still have at least 9 feet of roadway for outdoor structures and activities.
The ordinance said sidewalks are restricted to pedestrian travel only unless a business has been licensed for that space. And businesses must still be ADA-compliant — a requirement that was not relaxed during the pandemic-related changes, Ms. Grant said.
As for the potential return of parades to State Street, Ms. Grant said that is a topic that will be discussed at a later date.
“Right now, the priority is to establish the fire lane,” she said.