Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

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Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining
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By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara City Council voted to close State Street to vehicles from Haley to Sola to allow restaurants to expand outdoor seating.

Restaurants and cafes are allowed to expand their seating into sidewalks, public and private parking spaces as “creating parklets,” and some sections of roadway citywide as an emergency measure to give more space to conduct business using social distancing practices.

On Monday, Governor Newsom eased reopening requirements and several days later Santa Barbara was approved to move into Phase 2B which allows retail and dine-in restaurants to open again, with restrictions.

Late Thursday the City of Santa Barbara has made the decision to close State Street, from Sola Street to Haley, to vehicular traffic and open the roadway to give businesses and their customers more space to socially distance over Memorial Day weekend, effective Friday afternoon.

“Our City Council was inspired by the recommendation of the City’s business advisors. They know their clientele and they understand that Santa Barbaran’s value creativity. We all want to re-connect with our local businesses and support their endeavor," said Mayor Cathy Murillo.

New social distancing requirements will result in restaurants having to reduce their indoor seating capacity. The addition of outdoor dining hopes to provide more dining space while adhering to the new social distancing requirements.

The closed section of State Street will additionally serve as a pedestrian promenade. Pedestrians are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings within the pedestrian plaza, which will be open daily from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. 

"This is an idea whose time has come. Locals have talked about the transition of State Street to a pedestrian promenade for decades. We can open businesses in a way that is safe and inviting while having open streets for pedestrians. These temporary measures give us a chance to really vision what the future of Downtown could be," said councilmember Kristen Sneddon.

There's potential this may stay in effect for some weeks to come as a temporary emergency measure to due COVID-19. Cross streets will remain open to vehicular traffic.

All businesses will be required to follow guidelines in the newly released RISE Guide created by the county including the completion of the Business Attestation Form and Industry Checklist.

The City of Santa Barbara is preparing guidelines for establishing outdoor dining and alcoholic beverage regulation issues.

Some of the City requirements in place for expanded outdoor include: tables and seating be placed 6 feet apart; the dining area has a defined boundary above-grade (rope, fence) that is removable if there will be alcohol service; that the width of the outdoor dining area is no larger than the storefront of the business; 6 feet of passable sidewalk area to be maintained at all times; a clear pedestrian and emergency pathway from the centerline of the street (a total of 14 feet in width);  and that the expanded outdoor dining area be adjacent to the business as much as feasible.

An Emergency Ordinance will be presented at a Special City Council meeting on May 27th to address the expansion of outdoor dining into other areas in the City as well as an expansion into public parking and private property.

Businesses are encouraged to contact the city with questions at [email protected] or 805-560-7520.

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GeneralTree May 24, 2020 05:50 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I'm pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have in fact caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But as you can see, it's a beautiful day, the beaches are opened, and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means friendship.

a-1591048316 May 24, 2020 11:24 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Big COVID-19 party! Come catch the disease and spread it around. Come to Santa Barbara! No mask required. Lot's of alcohol to loosen inhibitions... - That's the new welcome sign for Santa Barbara. If you want to live avoid Santa Barbara like the plague. I am.

NotReallyDave May 24, 2020 03:31 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

And don't forget the trick riding by bicyclists that skim by you to give you such a thrill, or the openness of the streets so "urban travelers" can exercise their shopping carts. Perhaps we need more street performers from the Bay Area to entertain the patrons eating at curbside with sword-swallowing or fire-eating. Perhaps the Mayor can do performances on the hour!

A Real Local May 24, 2020 10:33 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Tourists w/o masks. Reckless bicyclists. It is a recipe to spread the disease and leave it here or injure pedestrians . I won't shop here or go back to a restaurant until there is a vaccine. So sad that the Council has bought into the idea that to survive Santa Barbara's sacrifice is the death of it's locals and essential workers. My recommendation? Avoid the place like the plague. It's the best place to catch it in Santa Barbara.

LooseCannon May 25, 2020 12:07 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

By the "Greatest Generation", are you referring to an older cohort who have overwhelmingly supported the GOP in the past, giving Donald Trump the edge in the last election? The same people who starved the state coffers with Prop 13, transformed the UC system from a free university to one that now burdens young people with enormous debt, ended pensions in favor of useless 401K schemes for succeeding generations, and now demand that younger people quarantine in place to save their butts? Is that the Greatest Generation you are referring to, or have you succumbed to the same World War II masturbation fantasies of Mr. Brokaw? The fight against fascism was a long time ago, and quite admirable, but I'm not sure that the subsequent political trajectory of that generation can be characterized as especially "Great." Generalizing, of course.

NotReallyDave May 24, 2020 07:51 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

But LOCAL, the City employees need the money for the recent raises they were given. Got to keep the wage raises even with the other employees or there might be a revolt! And you thought it was YOUR government, huh?

Bene May 24, 2020 06:27 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

2 p.m. I agree with you in general, but blaming all of this on "pressure from the White House" is not including the whole picture. There is plenty of pressure from business owners and people who have no ability to put up with distancing measures either due to lack of strength or character as you point out, or financial hardship. Some people find it more attractive to believe the danger of the virus is not serious, or not as serious a problem as them not getting to go to the beach. Some of these people are democrats and do not follow Trump. Students on the Mesa are partying heavily, no masks, no social distancing, no cares-- and I doubt there is a Trump supporter among them.

a-1591048316 May 24, 2020 02:00 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

RealLocal: The pressure coming out of the WH was just too much to handle, so folding was the only option for our state and city. Lots more people, and I mean LOTS more, are going to come down with this damn virus in the upcoming days/weeks. I hope everyone remembers this, and if it does not happen, please remind me what a fool I was to believe this. Keep wearing the masks, and keep up the distancing. Our society has become weak and people cannot handle these things like the folks in the past (like the "Greatest" generation").

d8vanilla May 24, 2020 08:58 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I have mixed feelings about the bicyclists..... but, the 2 times, I've been there, sitting on a bench facing the street, there weren't enough pedestrians, walking in the street, to pose a problem with the bicycles.... In fact, the bicyclists were doing their usual "tricks" , which were very entertaining, but not dangerous to the public. That being said, things will WILL change, once more people start walking State Street. ps- I was sitting there around the 600-700 blk for a couple hours.

a-1591048316 May 24, 2020 08:54 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Some observations about the new outdoor dining downtown: 1) The workers/wait staff do not appear to be all that happy about the new setup, as opposed to the owners who are absolutely gleeful. 2) There is nothing in place to keep all the dust/airborne particles off of the food/drink that's casually laying out on the tables....it's unhealthy to eat! Some sort of food/drink covers should definitely be provided. 3) Customers don't seem to mind eating in/among the multitude of potential Covid-19 and/or infected individuals walking/sitting within the recommended social-distancing guidelines. 4) If not already included, I think there should be a minimum 25% gratuity added to each and every bill so that these brave workers don't get "stiffed" as they often do by the not-so-generous customers. 5) Rat control, or should I say, lack of rat control. I love/love/love animals, but filthy disease-carrying rats need to be nowhere near all of this food/crumbs/debris. We can do better my friends.

Bene May 24, 2020 06:44 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

If you sit at an outdoor table, you are a "sitting duck," vulnerable to everyone who happens by. You have no ability to move quickly if a "gang of coughers" walks right next to you or decides to stand right next to your table and chat.

sbdude May 23, 2020 08:58 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Checked out State this afternoon. Lots of people, a few bikes. Looked like a mix of tourists and locals. About half of the people were not wearing masks and going in and out of stores. So the employees all have to wear masks but not the customers, many of whom come up from various Civid hotspots, putting employees at risk. Who is protecting who?

a-1591048316 May 23, 2020 08:17 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Curious, around 5, I looked around lower State, from Gutierrez down through the 'funk' zone. Almost no one was wearing a mask, anywhere, including at the Lark outside patio that was packed, nor were they along Cabrillo Boulevard or on the grass where groups gathered; nor, of course, were they at the Cabrillo Ball Park where guys were playing soccer. Clearly, Santa Barbara is open and baaaacck!

Lorax May 23, 2020 05:22 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Needs to be posted no bikes allowed in the closed areas. Bikes and pedestrians don't mix. No bikes should be allowed in closed off portions of state street. If it is closed to cars it should be closed to bikes as they have to follow the same rules of the road as cars by law.

a-1591048316 May 24, 2020 12:18 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Too true, Lorax! But this is Santa Barbara and bicycles have equal rights to motor vehicles and superior rights to pedestrians! Just ask, no, take a look at the Bicycle Coalition and you'll see who rules here! :)

a-1591048316 May 23, 2020 01:30 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Bicyclists were out of control. there simply wasn't enough room when people stood in the middle of the street and pedestrians wandered on both sides in opposite directions. No coordination at all and this is not going to change. They need to prohibit bicyclist on the street. It's simply going to be too narrow. The city council on Wednesday is supposed to direct only 14 feet to be set aside in the middle of the street for pedestrians and bicyclists. Someone is going to get hurt and I'm not going to be down there wandering up and down State Street to spend my hard-earned money on restaurants. There was no social distancing in some areas while other areas had plenty of room. You couldn't walk on many sidewalks. Saw a man in a wheelchair in front of the Grenada. He couldn't get to any of the restaurants to the right or to the left. There's a curb. No access for him. I'd say 60% or greater of the restaurants didn't reduce the number of tables they had inside or out. This opening is just going to cause locals to become infected, tourists to come to Santa Barbara and infect locals, and essential workers to become infected spread the virus is they serve food. It's a total disaster. State Street by the way is way too long. The Funk Zone destroyed the downtown businesses. Too much commercial and retail development in town. Not enough residents to support these businesses. We need a dramatic reshaping of the economy. Santa Barbara needs to move away from tourism. Downtown property owners need to let go of their dreams of ever-increasing rents in land prices. We're going to see a lot of pain. but the biggest pain for the downtown businesses is to see many people start to work from home. Facebook, Twitter, Google they're all letting their workers work from home. Remote working is the future and all of this commercial and retail space needs to go away. Stay safe everyone. Don't go downtown.

REDTOP May 23, 2020 12:39 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

We LOVED walking on State Street this morning! Two suggestions: Keep the open cross streets with regular signaling. It’s confusing for vehicles and pedestrians with the blinking reds. Second, I was almost knocked down by a bicyclist who thought he was in a race barreling down State Street! Have a some sensible speed enforced for two-wheelers or restrict them to the side streets. After all, this is supposed to be a Pedestrian Promenade.

ZeroHawk May 24, 2020 07:35 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

yeah the bikes yesterday were a bit much. two kids doing wheelies almost hit my daughter and then the kid tried to blame her. Fortunately the mayor and an officer were there and took over. Both friends and both good people. Ive seen the wheelie kid up at SBCC several times. He's part of a group of maybe 50 that ride custom made cruisers. Better than gangs, but learn to ride with respect kids... I read someone whining about skaters again, doing ollies over orange cones. So what. The cones aren't in YOUR way are they? no. as for some kids riding bikes through there with speed and carelessness, that's just uncool, but a kid popping over a cone? YOU CLOSED THEIR SKATE PARK....where else should they go?

SBgal74 May 23, 2020 09:56 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Walked State Street yesterday to check out the new “pedestrian plan” and was almost run down multiple times by a-holes racing up and down the street on their bikes doing wheelies etc. They were carelessly weaving through the crowd at high rates of speed. In addition there were kids on skateboards using the red cones as jumps. Clearly the city is going to need to figure out some order. I think the concept is a good one but it feels very haphazard at this point and far too many blocks are shut down. It feels like Haley to Ortega or even Canon Perdido would be more than enough. Even the 3rd Street Promenade is only 3 blocks.

mp805 May 23, 2020 09:47 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

If you've ever been to 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica this is the concept they are trying to use here on State St. The new SB economic manager was hired from Santa Monica...My prediction is we will never see the full length of state st for cars ever open again. 3rd street case study link here.....https://www.restreets.org/case-studies/the-third-street-promenade

2contango May 23, 2020 08:59 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Hope it helps. But the future of full-service restaurants everywhere didn't look good even before the corona virus. They are a minimum wage business and their costs keep going up every year, outpacing overall disposable incomes. There is a limit to what people will pay for a meal, and we now have lots of cheaper alternatives. Instead of focusing on restaurants, the city should start planning for a State Street with fewer and fewer sit-down restaurants. Maybe there's a better use for our taxpayer supported public street space.

letmego May 24, 2020 07:41 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I actually started getting takeout/ eating out MORE during the shutdown. I learned to cook a good number of years ago (17?) and got to the point that most of the food I made was better than restaurants, and also: much healthier. Then I had kids and we moved back to "easy" (and often boring, compared to the variety of ethnic meals available). With the COVID shutdown, I apparently had NO IDEA how much my 2 kids can pack away during a day (they were getting school lunch/snacks). We increased our takeout from 2x a month to 6x a month for sanity's sake. I think 10% of the cost is an exaggeration though. 25-50% possibly.

a-1591048316 May 23, 2020 09:59 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I learned how to cook and cook well during this shutdown. There are few restaurants that will fix a meal healthier and better tasting than what I can do at home for 10% of the cost. I don't expect to eat out nearly as often as I used to. I suspect that there are many others that have learned the same thing.

a-1591048316 May 23, 2020 08:19 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Good!! I don't plan to indulge but know lots of people that have been working from home, and some who have been collecting more unemployment than they usually make from working, that will be thrilled to get out of the house and support local businesses. People are ready to move forward, especially with the low covid numbers in SB. Let them!!!

SantaBarbaraObserver May 23, 2020 07:48 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

How does one go bankrupt? Slowly at first, then all at once... Managing a crisis from behind, this is what your highly paid, and 100% employed city staff do best. While I applaud the idea behind this move, without a re-thinking of the actual business districts (the density and location of), this will only stem the inevitable for a few weeks or months. Businesses and restaurants are scattered along 1.5miles of State St. So this will not really solve much and will leave a lot more unused, unsold and unproductive space. Not too mention:Are the restaurants paying rent to the city in order to use the public roads and thoroughfares for their private business activities? The city would be better off closing Cabrillo and allowing food trucks and other types of portable business operations. The park and the waterfront are much better for this type of endeavor as most of the action will be accessible within a few blocks of each other as well as having the open space and attractive views. I dont see how a dozen restaurants will hold 1.5miles without a serious rearrangement of the business locations.

ZeroHawk May 24, 2020 07:29 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Bird if they don't save the restraunts, the employees won't be working. Ive chatted with a friend who is a business owner downtown. He cant afford to pay his wait staff and rent and food overhead right now. He's slinging plates himself with his family and a few friends and 1 or 2 employees. Hes said that he and several others KNOW their business is doomed here. He understands this is the final straw, and is making plans to move the business out of town, along with 3 others...

Bird May 23, 2020 03:55 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Cabrillo Blvd. has been closed off and on, for bikes and pedestrians. Last time I looked there are few restaurants there ---- and the purpose of this is not to please the ordinary Santa Barbara so much as it is to try to save the restaurants that provide employment to Santa Barbarans.

Bird May 23, 2020 03:55 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Cabrillo Blvd. has been closed off and on, for bikes and pedestrians. Last time I looked there are few restaurants there ---- and the purpose of this is not to please the ordinary Santa Barbara so much as it is to try to save the restaurants that provide employment to Santa Barbarans.

biguglystick May 23, 2020 11:51 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

100% AGREE that Cabrillo would be the better street to do this with. This seems as though it wasn't thought out all that well. If they closed Cabrillo to cars they could make a beautiful Mediterranean style waterfront mecca for tourists and locals alike. That area is thriving now compared to State. St. anyways. As a long time local, I feel I'm in the minority, though, for not wanting State. St. to be closed to cars. I used to love to cruise up and down State in my convertable. I'm sure others have fond memories of this too. But seriously, rents are one major problem. There won't BE any business if no one can afford the rent and make a living.

ZeroHawk May 23, 2020 07:29 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

this is all for not. do you or "they" really expect us to rush out and spend $50 to $100 on dinner when we are out of work for several months and already stretched thin? this is done just in hope that people will come. not one person i know in town or in the 805 plans to spend any money in the next year or so. everyone is tight right now and budgets are low. dining out isn't the top of anyone's priority right now. this won't help our downtown revive. frankly, and to be blunt, nothing will help downtown at this point. it has been sliding down hill since the late 1990s and now with the lockdown, id be surprised if any of those businesses make it 6 months. i'm not trying to be negative and mean, i'm just being realistic. the only businesses that will continue to do well is food delivery and grocery stores (in the realm of food that is). sad....but true

letmego May 24, 2020 07:46 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I must run in different circles. I know a lot of people who are still fully employed (because they can work remotely) and have been ITCHING for things to open up so that they can enjoy a restaurant meal. Though one of them went to state st yesterday and realized that: there's no place he wants to eat on state st. As to how to fix State st...I don't know that answer. I stopped going there 14-15 years ago when I couldn't even run or walk without being accosted by the homeless. About the only thing we do there now is go to a movie (a few times a year), or grab something yummy at a bakery.

ZeroHawk May 24, 2020 07:27 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

and they are rich and retired because they don't run out and blow money on waste like dining out . They also have restaurants in Cito that they frequent. Just because someone has money doesnt mean they are going to rush out and spend spend spend....

ZeroHawk May 24, 2020 07:24 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I was down there last night with my kids. Talked to Cathy and a few of my PD buddies. What did we see? Just as I stated. A LOT of people walking around and 1/3 if that were dining. Joes had 6 full tables! Just as I said, this isnt going to work. We only noticed two restaurants that had customers, other than that, just a lot of people walking around. So many in fact, that our Mayor was concerned. A lot of people with no face coverings and mingling in groups. Mostly at the beer place on Haley, the 'bro' crowd.

mtndriver May 23, 2020 07:55 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

All for naught, you mean. I don’t agree, though. They’re doing what they can at this moment and there are a lot of people who will be happy to support the restaurants that are able to get their people back to work. I’m hopeful it will be successful.

a-1591048316 May 23, 2020 07:10 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

As they get into to this, the restaurants need to be able to control the space of their sidewalk cafes, probably with ropes, to keep people from meandering around the diners. The street is for walking. The sidewalks are for dining. You can't dine with a mask on. Maybe should not walk without a mask.

a-1591048316 May 22, 2020 11:01 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Great ! Now when the waiters / waitresses clean tables they'll be putting more food droppings on the sidewalks so the ever increasing rats and other disease carrying rodents can make people sick .

Nature Boy May 22, 2020 09:10 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Question about this: “within the pedestrian plaza, which will be open daily from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. ” Does that mean that nobody can walk State Street early in the morning or late at night? Or can they just not walk in the (empty, carless) street?

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