The ad hoc subcommittee appointed by the Santa Barbara City Council to address the outdoor dining parklets on lower State Street wants design requirements and a fee structure put in place.
But significantly, the subcommittee does not want parades to return to the pedestrian promenade area or that the parklets be required to be portable in the foreseeable future.
The Department of Public Works is scheduled to give a report to the council today on State Street interim operations since June 28, and then be asked to direct staff on how to proceed regarding the downtown parklets.
The council meets at 2 p.m. at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.
Based on the ad hoc committee’s recommendations, staff will be asking the council to approve revisions to specific design guidelines for in-street outdoor business facilities on the State Street Promenade and the 400 and 1300 blocks of State Street, changing certain design guidelines to design requirements, becoming effective Dec. 1.
Also, staff will request the council to direct city staff to pursue a fee structure for use of public right-of-way space for in-street outdoor business facilities on the State Street Promenade and the 400 and 1300 blocks of State Street.
And, perhaps most important to city residents, the council will be asked to direct staff regarding if and when parades should be allowed on State Street.
In addition to the parklet issues, staff will provide a deep cleaning and decorative lighting update, and report on Americans with Disabilities Act enforcement activity on the State Street Promenade.
The Public Works Department is responsible for managing ongoing operations of the State Street Promenade, under the advice of the State Street Interim Operations Ad Hoc Subcommittee (SSIOAHS).
Since receiving additional council direction in June, staff have continued to work on implementing and enforcing the Economic Recovery Extension and Transition Ordinance, working with stakeholders and identifying additional issues requiring attention, staff said.
All of the downtown recommendations made by the DPW come from the ad hoc subcommittee.
And while the subcommittee recommends the full council act on design requirements and a fee structure, it does not recommend the return of parades to the promenade area or that the parklets become portable during an interim operations period that could last two to five years.
“The SSIOAHS recommends that parades not be allowed on the State Street Promenade during the interim operations period due to a variety of significant public safety concerns centered around a lack of emergency access due to in-street outdoor business facilities on State Street,” staff said.
“As a result of the SSIOAHS recommendation to not allow parades on State Street during the interim operations period, the SSIOAHS recommends that existing in-street outdoor business facilities not be required to be portable,” staff said.
Final city council direction is requested on these items.
The ad hoc subcommittee has met and engaged with community stakeholders on a variety of State Street interim operations topics, including the Public Works downtown team staff. Members also conducted a walk of State Street to review design elements, storm water issues and ADA compatibility.
They also met with a Santa Barbara County Association of Governments Traffic Solutions representative, various local bicycle advocacy groups regarding bike safety on State Street; parade organizers representing Fiesta, Christmas Parade, July 4th, Summer Solstice, and Veterans Day to discuss the future of parades on State Street; Downtown Santa Barbara members and Mayor Randy Rowse to discuss public safety issues downtown; and staff, including Police and Fire Department representatives, to discuss public safety, parades, and general updates.
Regarding design recommendations, the subcommittee believes that the existing look, feel, general quality, and appearance of parklets has, for the most part, significantly degraded over the past two years.
“The SSIOAHS is confident that several existing design guidelines, if made to be design requirements, would make a positive impact on the overall look and feel of the area with minimum cost or impact to new and existing in-street outdoor business facilities,” staff said.
The subcommittee and staff have heard from businesses and the community that the city should charge fees for commercial activities operating in the public right-of-way, staff said. Fees would be charged on a per-square-foot basis at a rate sufficient to generate enough revenue to pay for costs associated with ongoing maintenance of the State Street Promenade, including the 400 and 1300 blocks of State Street.
Expenditures in Fiscal Year 2023 are estimated to be approximately $600,000, including daily, weekly and monthly cleaning, as well as quarterly deep cleaning, staffing, contracting and equipment. For the current fiscal year, the Downtown Parking Program, along with $300,000 in one-time ARPA funds, is paying all costs associated with the State Street Promenade, including the 400 and 1300 blocks of State Street. Expenditures for Fiscal Year 2024 are expected to be approximately $675,000.
The subcommittee is recommending a proposed fee of $5 per square foot for all space within property frontage. The rate would go up for additional parklet space.
Council direction is required for final timing on when, or if, parades should return to State Street.
Due to public safety concerns centered around a lack of emergency access due to in-street outdoor business facilities on State Street, the SSIOAHS recommends that parades not return to State Street during the interim operations period. In that case, the city’s special events staff will work with parade organizers on identifying alternatives, including Cabrillo Boulevard, for future parades.
Council direction also is required regarding portability for in-street outdoor business facilities on the State Street Promenade and the 400 and 1300 blocks of State Street. Portability provides a clear State Street Promenade to host parades as well as allowing for a more comprehensive deep cleaning of the public right-of-way on a quarterly basis.
However, if parades will not resume on State Street during the interim operations period, the need for portability is less of an imperative, staff said.
“As such, the SSIOAHS recommends that portability not be a requirement of existing in-street outdoor business facilities.”
However, this is only for current parklets. All new in-street, outdoor business facilities must be portable, the city has said.
“However, if Council chooses to resume parades on State Street during the interim operations period, portability must be made a requirement of all existing in-street outdoor business facilities,” staff said.