Santa Barbara City Council Debates Plans for 1300 block of State Street

Buses and vans parked illegally in the bicycle lane in front of the Granada Theatre (courtesy photo)

On Tuesday the Santa Barbara City Council discussed new plans proposed for the 1300 block of State Street.

The proposed plans centered on a discussion around modifying bike lanes, including a vehicle drop off area in front of the Arlington Theater, reduced or eliminated parklets, two-way vehicle traffic, and street parking.

In December of last year the council advised city staff to create an accessible vehicle drop off zone in front of the Granda Theatre (1200 block of State Street), establish a fire lane in the 00 block of W. Victoria Street, and examine the configuration of the 1300 block of State Street.

The drop-off zone in front of the Granada Theatre has been implemented but concerns have risen regarding vans, shuttles, and other vehicles parking in the bike path to pick up and drop off theatre goers. For the first block of W. Victoria Street, the city plans to reintroduce two-way vehicle traffic, reduce parklets to nine-feet in width, and add traffic safety barriers in a few weeks.

With city staff evaluating the 1300 block of State, there were concerns over southbound cyclists and vehicles attempting to back out of parking spaces with a high probability of collisions.

Before retiring, then City Administrator Rebecca Bjork used Title 31 to prioritize safety by providing a two-way bike lane protected by 26 angled parking spots along the southwestern curb with passenger drop off in front of the Arlington Theatre, and two-way vehicle traffic. This configuration would require the removal of two parklets on that street belonging to the Opal and Carlitos restaurants.

Santa Barbara City Administrator’s recommended configuration for the 1300 block of State Street shown during Tuesday’s City Council meeting (courtesy)

An alternative configuration was created for parallel parking, but with the emphasis on safety, the city administrator decided to stick with the angled parking plan.

“This is an unconventional design in terms of having the angled parking floating out in the street versus something against that curb that’s a more standard configuration, so from that perspective this isn’t something that people would be used to,” said Derrick Bailey, Acting Streets Operations and Infrastructure Manager.

Bailey said one of the benefits of this configuration is the bike lane is completely separate from traffic, unlike the drop off area for the Granada Theatre that poses problems with vehicles idling in the bike lanes waiting for pickup passengers.

“I think this plan is overly complicated,” said Councilmember Kristen Sneddon. “It sort of makes the center of the street a parking lot.”

Councilmember Meagan Harmon stated she preferred the alternative parallel parking configuration and was unclear how it was less safe than this more complicated design.

Santa Barbara City Administrator’s alternative configuration deemed “unsafe” for the 1300 block of State Street shown during Tuesday’s City Council meeting (courtesy)

Ultimately, city staff stated that due to Title 31, the council can provide recommendations but the City Administrator has the final say on the project.

At the end of the discussion the City Council still voted 4-2 to for the city administrator to offer alternative vehicle configurations in the 1300 block of State Street to solve traffic issues while allowing businesses to reapply for outdoor dining parklets. Councilmembers Alejandra Gutierrez and Eric Friedman were the opposing votes.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Why are we still approving so-called “parklets” for outdoor dining now that the Covid pandemic is over.

    Since that was a Covid pandemic solution to allow restaurants to operate without people congregating indoors, should it not be terminated and go back to previous normal operations?

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