Council Approves $2 SqFt Parklet Fees for State Street Promenade

By the edhat staff

The Santa Barbara City Council approved $2 fees per square foot for outdoor dining parklets in the downtown area.

During Tuesday’s meeting the Council voted 5-2 to approve the less costly option as rates up to $10 per square foot had previously been discussed.

The monthly fees will kick in on May 1 for all temporary outdoor business facilities within the State Street Promenade, from 1300 to 400 blocks of State Street.

Councilmember Eric Friedman abstained from the vote with concerns over reduced revenue impacting underfunded city departments and Mayor Randy Rowse voted no stating its unfair to businesses in other areas.

In January, the City of Santa Barbara announced the approval of structure fees for restaurants and vendors using parklets on State Street. The rates were dependent on structure types, whether there was a platform or roof and how portable the parklet is. Rates varied from $3 to $10 per square foot.

The fees will go towards the city’s cost of cleaning and maintaining the Downtown Promenade which is projected to cost $675,000 for the 2024 fiscal year.

Santa Barbara City staff reported it has received 37 parklet license applications and expect at least ten more to apply in coming weeks.

Outdoor dining (courtesy photo)

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Here is a better report on what they did: Rowse is absolutely right on this one, both as to the issue and the shenanigans that were used. The others sold out with the exception of Friedman who wimped out. Especially the proposal to use money we voted for streets and infrastructure to pay for the cleanup of the litter and vermin this perpetuates.

  2. Some of the monetary thinking by the council included recognizing the increase in sales tax revenue from the thousands of folks, and lots of tourists who also pay bed taxes. So many people enjoy the ability to take advantage of the Santa Barbara street ambiance that the city has another boost in revenue. The parklet owners keep their own parklets clean. The remaining extra cleaning (they needed to clean the sidewalks anyhow) includes power washing the chalk designs that children apply to the street. Friedman probably realized that the higher rates were effectively a vote against parklets as a feature of the street. I’m sure his constituents have let him know how much they enjoy the outdoor dining and walking. One can look around and say with confidence that State Street has several times the number of people enjoying being there than there were in 2019.

  3. State Street may be great for tourists but it’s impractical for locals who’d like to buy something other than a meal, drink or t-shirt. Our dollars for everything else are ending up in Goleta. I know Rowse supports the “tourist economy” but did he and the council have to completely sell out the folks who live and work here?

  4. To be fair, the city should have auctioned off the street space for any retail or hospitality use. Restaurant operators could bid on the space in front of their storefronts, but so could other businesses, such as adjacent retail shops and retail carts like those in shopping malls. The bidding process would provide a way to determine the market value of the public space. I suspect it would bring in more revenue to the city while making the process more equitable.

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