Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months title=
State Street Promenade (Photo: John Palminteri)
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

In recognition that the local economy and businesses are still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, staff is recommending that Council consider adopting an Economic Recovery Extension and Transition Ordinance. The ordinance would provide an additional 22 months until December 31, 2023 for businesses to operate expanded outdoor business facilities and parklets Citywide, and it authorizes the continued closure of downtown State Street to vehicles while regulatory changes and the State Street Master Plan are in development. The current emergency authority allowing for the temporary use of outdoor business areas on the State Street Promenade, on private property and use of parklets in on-street parking spaces is set to expire on March 8.

When Downtown State Street closed in May 2020, the Fire Department was supportive of a 14½-foot-wide fire access lane with the understanding that the closure was a short-term response to the public health emergency. However, since the closure of Downtown State Street will continue for an additional two years a full operational 20-foot-wide fire access lane is required. Approximately 25 businesses will need to modify their outdoor business facilities from the center of State Street to accommodate the wider fire access lane.

In addition to the summer 2020 closure of Downtown State Street, other streets were partially closed to allow businesses to temporarily expand outdoor dining areas in the roadway. The proposed ordinance requires that those streets reopen to address emergency access and circulation needs. Approximately five businesses will need to transition their outdoor dining facilities into parklets.

Santa Barbara has a robust food service industry, the allowance for businesses to expand temporarily outdoors was a critical response to keep those businesses operational. The extension to continue to allow businesses to operate expanded outdoor facilities will help ensure their continued success. More than 150 businesses have benefited from temporarily expanding the business areas outdoors. Additionally, the creation of the State Street Promenade has been warmly embraced by the community and has added to the vibrancy of downtown.

The City is in the early phase of developing the State Street Master Plan which is expected to be completed in late-2023. Tess Harris, the State Street Master Planner, states, “The State Street Master Plan will utilize urban design and placemaking tactics to further the revitalization of downtown that supports commerce and provides a community gathering place for residents to enjoy their downtown. The City is embarking on an opportunity to be forward-thinking and build off the existing momentum to make downtown more interesting and appealing to everyone.”

The Council Ordinance Committee will review, and Council will consider adopting the Economic Recovery Extension and Transition Ordinance on January 25th.

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a-1641923875 Jan 11, 2022 09:57 AM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

With the demise of any quality retail downtown, it would be nice to know which "150 businesses" are benefitting by the takeover of State Street by bars and restaurants aimed at the tourist trade. The booming trade at Costco and Goleta shopping areas tells the tale, as many local shoppers have abandoned the downtown for other venues. Perhaps the tourist driven transiency occupancy tax will fill the Santa Barbara City coffers, replacing sales tax, but the demise of a shopping area is sad for those of us who live here.

a-1641932135 Jan 11, 2022 12:15 PM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

That is a reflection of changing discretionary shopping habits being shifted more online even for the basics, people just don't go out to "shop" as much anymore but people still want to 'go out', thus the shift to more experiential retail of which dinning is a big part. If 'local shoppers' actually still shopped at levels they used to there would be still be more retail to support it. Judging by the packed parklets most nice evenings, many people are enjoying this new shift.

ZeroHawk Jan 11, 2022 03:58 PM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

the 150 business would be the eateries and cafes.... because it's sure not World Market, 99C Store, Game Keeper, Antique Ally, The Gap, Tillys, Marshalls. That's pretty much all we have downtown. That and some random shops selling things that no one really needs or wants. Like the sunglass dude near Ortega and State that blares christian jesus rock all day, or the many pop up shops that will be gone in a month or two. Downtown SUCKS for shopping. In fact, santa barbara as a whole sucks for shopping. I've been finding way more places in Ventura, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo and Oxnard over the crap stores left in this town. BTW this isn't a reflection of us buying online....we buy online because there is no place to buy things in Santa Barbara....think about it....

a-1641955948 Jan 11, 2022 06:52 PM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

Changing "discretionary habits"? Baloney. Parents still need to buy children's clothes-. We all still need shoes, underwear, kitchen equipment and other home stuff. We used to be able to go to Penny's, Macy's, Nordstrom's, shoe stores, kitchen stores, jewelry stores etc etc. downtown. All gone. Target and the budget / cheap outlet stores downtown are very poor substitutes. "Dinning" is very expensive and I doubt the tourists are here for retail when the towns they come from have far superior shopping. "Dinning", won't carry the economy of downtown, no matter how many free real estate "parklets" are handled to restaurants and bars by the City Council.

Luvaduck Jan 12, 2022 07:55 AM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

To drop an additional penny: The profit margin for stores that sell basics like underwear, kid's school clothes, non-designer clothes, normal shoes (not Jimmy Chous) and such doesn't allow them to rent downtown stores. That leaves what SB has: in-fill temporary shops, expensive restaurants, non-profits, cinemas, non-tax producers (jails, gv't offices etc.) When you add expensive parking, people go elsewhere.

a-1642005987 Jan 12, 2022 08:46 AM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

Not just rent, the cost of employees, and taxes all add into it. The basics have become extremely low-margin and significant volume is needed to sustain a store that sells low-margin goods. Santa Barbara simply can't provide the volume to support a store that sells the basics downtown while competing with Amazon and big box stores in Goleta.

Luvthisplace Jan 12, 2022 08:54 AM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

If you watch the online video of the SSAC meeting Jan 10th (from the 30th minute mark to about 1 hr mark) they show all the details of the concerns of public safety for the need to reopen the two "chosen' side streets and widen the promenade for emergency apparatus (vehicles) it is a pretty simple & necessary need to fulfill. The fact that we would even consider (meaning requires a vote at a later date) NOT providing these changes, just so 30 total businesses can keep their EXPANDED patio's, is insane..won't even touch on the continued inaccessibility of ADA requirements the city has continued to ignore...but let's be clear. these 5 businesses off promenade and the 25 businesses on promenade will all be able to keep, at the least, parklets. With 150 total permitted spaces city-wide, and only 60 ON the promenade,,,if 90 other businesses have survived on "just" a parklet, why the hell should these 60 be allowed to be even bigger, let insist that they can't survive without further insulting all of those that HAD to survive without it. A bunch of whiny selfish cry-babies that have shown ZERO gratitude by continuing to defy the parameters of the original ordinance. This did not create relief. This did not create recovery for anyone other than promenade (and W Victoria for whatever BS reason council hand chose them) This did not generate new/more revenues...this just redistributed the flow of tourists and cannibalized the sales that would have organically occurred elsewhere. There are PLENTY of patios in Santa Barbara, and more than enough to suffice the actual population/demand without this expansion...it just wasn't on State Street...so the city can just choose to screw over all other patio driven businesses who chose their location for the availability of a patio?
Look at Embermill...done. On the market for $13k/month now ($5.15/sq ft, was less than $4 pre pandemic) they can't expand onto promenade/sidewalk due to the giant planter out front..meanwhile across the street, Oppiz' patio is 5 storefronts wide (ordinance says no wider than facade of business) Chase is 5-6 businesses wide and dominating the sidewalk (lawsuit pending by city) and Mizza also over encroaching sidewalk and far closer to the yellow line than ordinance allows (also lawsuit pending by city) that killed them...and the City let it happen by not enforcing the ordinance as written from day one. Why should we believe the council will enforce any new rule?

ZeroHawk Jan 12, 2022 10:35 AM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

luvthisplace, i work on the block with Chase. They are fully aware of what they are doing and will continue to do it. The fines are barely noticed they say. It's worth them to pay the fines in order to make alot in sales. the city needs to make the fines deeper i suppose.
Did you know that the parade routes have changed? I have a friend in the know, in a position to know, whos said they are putting Solstice and Fiesta parades now along Cabrillo. SBCC lower parking lot to the rainbow arches. Makes sense too! WAY more room, it's along the beach, the street is wider the side walks are bigger. But guess who cried about this? The downtown businesses. The same ones that are building into the street and then refuse to remove them.

bikewoman1 Jan 12, 2022 09:12 AM
Santa Barbara Considers Expanded Outdoor Business Areas For 22-Months

In my experience in commercial Real Estate locally, many of these State Street food and beverage businesses have simply been raking in the cash for the greater part of the pandemic. They doubled or tripled their customer capacity at no to little cost and benefitted from not having to get permits, HLC approvals, ADA compliance, etc etc... Not to mention all the government grants and loans that they got to cash in on as well. Despite having some weaker months here and there (right now for example), some State street business owners are laughing their way to the bank month after month... and getting entitled to the new norm.

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