Disability community advocates for clear pathway
The City of Santa Barbara issued notices to 67 businesses that their parklets or furnishings were encroaching on sidewalk space. As of Tuesday, seven are still in noncompliance.
This issue was discussed during an Access Advisory Committee update during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
For over a year, the City allowed dining to break the rules. Parklet structures were built straddling sidewalks and tables set up on pathways.
At the recommendation of the AAC, the City Council mandated on June 22 that the sidewalk had to be clear.
Although the sidewalks are wider than what the Americans with Disability Acts requires, the AAC insists people with disabilities need eight feet of clearance in high-traffic areas like State Street.
“This is more than the minimum required by the ADA. However, it really is the minimum necessary given the location to ensure a safe, predictable path of travel,” City Engineer and ADA Coordinator Brian D’Amour told City Council.
Enforcement of the mandate began July 12.
The seven remaining noncompliant businesses may face $250 penalties for each violation per day out of compliance. “More significant penalties” will be enforced if no actions are taken, said Mr. D’Amour.
Members of the disability community — some whom could not access the meeting —and some advocates commented on City Council’s action.
Dr. Skylar Covich, an access technology instructor at the Braille Institute and blind Santa Barbara resident, submitted a written public comment.
“It’s a major problem for those residents, such as myself, and visitors may or may not frequent the area, and may have plans disrupted when we hit unexpected obstacles,” he wrote. “Frequently, even those of us with high levels of travel training, can’t get around the tables and other obstacles with canes, dogs, or even easily with brief assistance.
“I’m sure it can be an awkward experience for diners to watch us struggle too.”
He may have written his comment, as did another commenter on this item, because he could not access the meeting.
Blind and vision-impaired community members can use some video-conferencing software using assistive technology. (Dr. Covich would know as he instructs others on it daily.)
But the City uses GoToWebinar for City Council meetings, which is not accessible to devices like screen readers which would allow Dr. Covich to participate.
Accessible technology was also touched on in Mr. D’Amour’s presentation.
Also on the agenda, City Council approved Public Works’s proposal to restripe Chapala Street from two lanes to one with a separate bike lane.
The road will be reduced to one lane between Arrellaga Street and Mission Street, and a traffic signal will be installed at the Arrellaga and Chapala intersection.
It is part of the City’s “Vision Zero” initiative, where it looks to eliminate traffic collisions.
Transportation Engineer Derrick Bailey presented to Council that “77% of serious collisions occur on 20% of the streets,” including Chapala Street.
Other restripe projects have led to a reduction in annual number of accidents.
To watch an archive of the meeting, go to santabarbaraca.gov/gov/cityhall/council/meetings/videos/default.asp.