Six out of 44 outdoor dining parklets in the downtown promenade on lower State Street remain out of compliance with ADA requirements to provide accessibility to people with disabilities — a fact that surprised and dismayed the Santa Barbara City Council Tuesday.
In its filed report to the council, staff noted that 11 of the 44 parklets remained out of compliance, but Interim ADA Coordinator Ashleigh Shue told councilmembers Tuesday that that number had dropped to six as of Monday.
But the lower figure didn’t appease some council members.
“I’m shocked there are still six that remain non-compliant,” Councilmember Kristen Sneddon said.
Mayor Randy Rowe agreed. “I share the dismay of my colleagues that we still have six out of compliance.”
Staff was quick to reassure the council that steps are being taken to take care of the errant parklets — even if the restaurateurs who own them don’t.
Sarah Clark, the city’s parking and plaza manager, said a certified ADA specialist was inspecting the six parklets at that very moment.
Of those six, four have received two administrative citations, she said, noting “If they don’t pass the inspection, they will be required to remove the parklet from State Street.”
One of the remaining noncompliant parklets is owned by a restaurant that opens late, so the city has had a hard time inspecting it, but they have talked to the owner and are arranging for an inspection, she said.
The other one is a newer business with one administrative citation. If it fails a second inspection, it will receive a second citation, and if required changes aren’t made, it, too, will have to be removed, she said.
In response to a question by Councilmember Eric Friedman, Ms. Clark said the city will soon begin inspecting parklets outside the promenade area, including Coast Village Road. The Montecito street is within the Santa Barbara city limits.
“That will be our next big effort,” Ms. Clark said, adding that the city has reached out “to all those businesses that inspections are coming in the next few weeks,”
She said the inspection process will be a lot faster this time around because staff has developed a process to streamline the paperwork, issued correction notices in the field and given violators an earlier deadline to resolve the problem.
“We’ll be able to move more quickly to the final inspection phase,” she said. “It speeds up the time to get compliance achieved.”
Discussion of the parklets took place after the council heard an update on the recent activities and achievements of the Access Advisory Committee, as well as its goals and objectives for the future.
One item discussed Tuesday was the need for a full-time ADA coordinator who can deal with complaints and contact the right city department to respond to and deal with complaints and compliance problems.
Ms. Shue, who drew rave reviews for her performance as interim ADA coordinator by council members and the AAC, has been doing the job for 10 months and is expected to move on next month. She has had to juggle her ADA coordinator role with her other duties as an interim city engineer.
“Over the last 10 months, it has been a lot to handle,” she said.
Other items discussed at Tuesday’s meeting was the completion of the Cabrillo Pavilion renovation, which included installation of an ADA-compliant elevator; the start of the construction phase of the Central Library Plaza renovation; the start of the design phase of remodeling City Hall restrooms and installation of an ADA-compliant elevator, and the painting of blue curbs whenever necessary to ensure access to sidewalks for people with disabilities.
Councilmember Mike Jordan asked about the possibility of painting blue spaces in front of private properties.
Staff said the city definitely has a responsibility to do so when there are problems on public right of ways, but it’s more difficult implementing changes in front of property that is privately owned.
“There are a number of liability concerns having non-sworn officers performing enforcement,” Ms. Shue said.
Residents wanting to file complaints can email firstname.lastname@example.org.