Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining
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.
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.