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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Nature Boy May 22, 2020 07:31 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Horrible headline!! “State Street Closes!” “City Council voted to close State Street!” STATE STREET IS OPEN!! It just opened for the first time in decades. It’s only cars that it’s closed to. I was down there tonight and it looked & felt beautifully OPEN. People strolling in the warm evening air. Smiling at each other. Supporting local businesses. Check it out this weekend!!!

a-1590202109 May 22, 2020 07:48 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Good luck if you're driving a car and want to cross over state street. All the lights are blinking red and pedestrians won't stop crossing so cars can..... Traffic nightmare.. Why couldn't they just leave the traffic lights working so traffic can cross without long delays......

Nature Boy May 22, 2020 08:54 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

I agree — the flashing reds are awkward. At farmer’s market they just keep the light sequence BUT they have a crossing guard at each intersection. I think if cars were zipping thru at 30mph while people are strolling a 12-block pedestrian zone, talking & looking around & getting lost in this suddenly new way of things... people would get flattened. Having all cars stop at least gives pedestrians a sporting chance. And no, I’m not blaming car drivers and relieving walkers of all responsibility to pay attention. I’m just like, let the strollers stroll a bit more carelessly for a few months out of their lives. Cars are great —i drive one too — but eh, we can wait ten more seconds while enjoying the view of people enjoying life.

PitMix May 22, 2020 08:59 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

How do they do this in other cities that close their main promenade for pedestrians and business? The new business chief came from a City that did this so I bet they are doing the same thing as that City. And you know what? The world did not end and cars were able to get through. If you are really worried about it, cross above the closure and go down Anapamu. It's amazing what people choose to focus on.

biguglystick May 23, 2020 11:57 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

This is another BIG reason that I think that Cabrillo Ave would be the better choice for a pedestrian walk area. The one-way streets that surround State. St. were already confusing to tourists. I cannot count how many times I've seen out-of-towners starting up the wrong way on a one-way street, locals annoyed and honking at them. Closing State St. will confound this and make it worse, didn't anyone think of THAT?

PitMix May 22, 2020 09:00 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Some of my most enjoyable times on State Street have been when it has been closed for a parade or the State Street Mile. I'm going to start going downtown to enjoy it some more. Been waiting for this since I got here in 1998. Woohoo!!

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

Wonder how they'll manage to corral the homeless and urban travelers off that stretch of State Street. It's practically been their home for as long as I care to remember. They'd need to have some serious enforcement, and I'm wondering if the spineless City Council really has the stomach for that, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. And if they manage to pull that off, and I hope they do and it stays that way, then we need to ask them why it took a pandemic to finally clean the trash off our streets.

PitMix May 22, 2020 10:26 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

CSF, I really enjoyed your scientific postings on the virus; your postings on the "spineless" city council, not so much. We can't even force people to follow public health directives like wearing a mask, so what makes you think we can get rid of transients and travelers that are exercising their constitutional rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they see fit? If they are serious about helping businesses, there will be a big police presence in this zone to minimize problems. But I don't know if SB has the stomach to harass the transients enough to make them move along to another town. And so far they are not jailing anyone for anything less than a serious felony so the punishment option is not available. What would you think would show a spine?

ChemicalSuperFreak May 22, 2020 10:52 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Hi PIT, I think by spineless I was inferring that the actions the City Council is now taking to open State Street to outside dining, which in order to succeed must come with strict no-loitering enforcement, is something they could have done at any point in the past several decades but were too afraid to. You've been here sometime, right? You know all those breezeways between buildings, such as the one where the news stand used to be or next to one of the Metro theaters? Remember when those used to have raised planters with trees and flowering bushes that the transients use to sit on and lean their backpacks against. Rather than telling the transients to move along, they took the passive aggressive tactic (spineless in my opinion) of tearing out the planters, figuring if they were gone the transients find some other place to hang out. How'd that work out? As far as "constitutional rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness", I'm all for that no matter what your circumstances. However, many of those transients hog up benches that maybe someone else would like to sit on, let their dogs crap all over the sidewalks, and often smoke cigarettes within the prohibited distance from businesses, bus stops, etc. At least one of those is illegal and all of them deprive others from their pursuit of happiness. This is one of the reasons I avoid going downtown. Anyway, I enjoy your posts as well.

Luvaduck May 23, 2020 09:28 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

"What would you think would show a spine?" How about arrests housed in military-style barracks as a daily work crew to clean up public spaces including public restrooms to be built in public parks w/hourly miantenance to service them and more elaborate custodial halls for the those who are not sane? That would separate out the lazy, crazy and career hobos. Hobos who hate confinement and the lazy would move on. The crazy would have the support they so desperately need. That would leave "resident" drunks & addicts and those who are on the streets for economic reasons. The latter can be dealt with fairly well as a group and the money would be well-spent. The drunks and addicts? No idea; you can't shoot them or cure them.

Gordo May 23, 2020 09:52 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Santa Barbara Police just laid off 18 employees. This indicates that they have no stomach to enforce loitering or drug laws at this time. I guess that they figure that we don't already have enough crime.

a-1590252734 May 23, 2020 09:52 AM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

Santa Barbara Police just laid off 18 employees. This indicates that they have no stomach to enforce loitering or drug laws at this time. I guess that they figure that we don't already have enough crime.

ChemicalSuperFreak May 23, 2020 02:54 PM
Downtown State Street Closes to Vehicles for Outdoor Dining

RHS: Since were tossing out our favorite fascist slogans from WWII, here's mine: "Latina olim palus" --- Latin translation: "Latina, once a swamp". This was the motto used by Mussolini, Il Duce, my personal favorite dictator. It's in reference to the Pontine Marches that since pre-history were a plague to the Lazio region of Italy, as they were a source of malaria. From Julius Caesar to Pope Sixtus V, many great Italian visionaries failed to "drain the swamp". True, Mussolini took the homeless off the streets of Rome and drove them to the region to help undertake one of the most impressive feats of engineering the world has seen. Once the swamps were drained, they built cities, such as Littoria (now called Latina), with beautiful squares and homes for the once homeless. In provinces such as Latina, the no-longer-homeless prospered in agriculture by growing wheat and wine in a formerly inhospitable land. People need a purpose, and Mussolini understood that. When people work together they're strong and unbreakable, like a fascia of muscle or wheat (in this case the symbol of Italian fascism). So RHS, Mussolini tied and succeeded and it worked out well for the people of Latina (the formerly homeless of Rome), which was once a swamp and now the second largest city in the region, after Rome.

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?

a-1590213684 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 .

a-1590243000 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.

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

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.

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.

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....

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

a-1590247189 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!!!

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