A group of business owners and landowners is lobbying the City of Santa Barbara to remove outdoor food court lots along Coast Village Road and return parking to the area.
“We demand the removal of parklets from the public right-of-way on Coast Village Road,” according to a letter signed by 25 business owners and seven landowners on Coast Village Road.
The letter was sent last week to the Santa Barbara City Council.
“We, the undersigned, are writing in support of restoring fairness to all Coast Village Road and Coast Village Circle businesses,” the letter reads. “The reason for this is simple; the conditions that created the temporary existence of the parklets, namely the indoor dining restrictions, no longer exist as of June 15, 2021 and are therefore no longer necessary.”
The group said Coast Village Road does not benefit from public parking structures like businesses in downtown Santa Barbara.
Alison Hardey, owner of Jeannine’s Restaurant & Bakery, said removing the parklets would put people at risk.
“We’re still in the middle of COVID,” Hardey said. “The pandemic is not over.”
Hardey said forcing people to eat indoors again would put employees and customers at risk.
“They want ventilation,” she said. “They want to be outside. We have older customers. COVID spreads so easily. We’re not off the hook.”
The business would be devastated, she said.
“If we have to go back inside, it’s going to kill us financially,” Hardey said.
The letter states: “Consequently, the removal of 20% of available public parking spaces on Coast Village Road, to construct a handful of ‘temporary’ outdoor parklets, has never been sustainable for most businesses in the area ( and) exacerbated the pre-existing parking shortage and jeopardizes public safety.”
Brian Bosse, the city’s downtown manager, said the city has started conversations with Coast Village Road merchants, the Coast Village Association, Coast Village Road restaurants and Coast Village Road employees to better assess the situation of parklets.
“We are aware of the concerns expressed recently by various businesses on Coast Village Road,” Bosse said. “Some of those concerns were about the size of parklets, safety issues related to the size of parklets and their potential impact on bike paths and traffic lanes, and equity issues, and we will be looking at all of these issues in the next weeks. .”
He said the goal was to work with all businesses.
“Since the start of this process, the city has strived to be flexible with businesses and expand the outdoor shopping area to help them overcome the many restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bump. “We work with our business community to educate first, then enforce if an access or security issue arises.”
However, not everyone on Coast Village Road believes parklets are the problem.
Gene Montesano owns a few restaurants, Lucky’s and Tre Lune, on Coast Village Road.
“Restaurants bring people,” Montesano told Noozhawk, adding that restaurants bring people who also shop. “I also have a clothing store, and when the restaurants are busy, we do more business. That’s why the gallery opened next to Lucky’s because it attracts people. Same with Marcus next to Tre Lune. Any retailer that doesn’t understand that is not really a retailer.”
He said good retailers sell goods.
“If they have attractive merchandise, people buy it,” Montesano said. “Get rid of eating out and we’ll have plenty of parking because there won’t be anyone.”
Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon, whose District 4 includes Coast Village Road, said something had to change.
“It’s time to cut Coast Village parks,” Sneddon said. “They served a very important function during the height of the pandemic, and customers still love to eat out, but now the loss of parking is severely affecting retailers and services along the corridor. Coast Village has unique impacts due to the narrow angle parking lot and there really are limited other options.”
Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse said the company owners’ letter “lists many compelling facts.”
“If I owned or rented on Coast Village Road, I would probably feel the same way,” Rowse said.
He said one of the most valuable assets on Coast Village Road is parking.
“The circumstances justifying the original hosting are no longer in play,” Rowse said. “It’s been great for dining establishments that have the kind of frontage that could support the additional outdoor seating, but it changes the terms for adjacent properties. I don’t know what path there would be to continue the current situation.”
Jeannine’s Hardey encouraged the city to take a longer view. She said people go shopping after eating. Without restaurants, everyone in the neighborhood suffers.
“I don’t think they remember what it was like without restaurants,” Hardey said. “Restaurants bring vitality.”