I am dismayed that public property has been usurped for private use by local restaurants, endangering public safety and restricting public access. And this is happening while the Surfliner Inn debate continues to draw outrage over its proposed use of public property for private profit. 

Restaurants that use and blatantly block public sidewalks with tables and chairs, at worst, deny access to the disabled, and at best, hinder the public from safe use of the public sidewalk. Families with small children and strollers must at times veer into the street to pass by, endangering those families. 

With Covid-19 rules now allowing for indoor dining, and most people accustomed to mask protocol, it is not necessary to create public safety hazards for the sake of private profit.

Is this not the height of hypocrisy – that a takeover of the public sidewalk to serve private profit is tolerated by our city administration? Yet there is so much discussion of the proposed hotel taking over public open space.  

I find it appropriate to note that the city of Santa Barbara recently initiated revised rules for restaurant use of the public sidewalk and “parklets” on the public street to ensure that the Americans with Disabilities Act and general public access is maintained in conformance to regulations and common sense. 

The Carpinteria city administration needs to review how businesses use and abuse public property, lest the city face damaging legal issues. Yes, we should preserve local charm in our wonderful city, but not at the expense of our residents and their rights to safely use our public sidewalks. 

 

 

Ed. note: In fact checking this letter, CVN reached out to City Manager David Durflinger, who responded that businesses were operating in the street right-of-way (including the sidewalk) pursuant a Temporary COVID-19 Outdoor Business Permit. “All of these City COVID-19 Outdoor Business Permits ... are explicit about maintaining adequate room for pedestrian passage consistent with accessibility standards,” Durflinger said, “Our code compliance team has been in touch with (... the) management (of businesses) about the concerns raised and will be monitoring the business(es) for compliance.”  

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