By Raiza Giorgi

The Solvang City Council unanimously adopted an urgency ordinance to allow restaurants, bars and wine tasting rooms in the TRC zone to expand outdoors in response to COVID-19 restrictions during their regularly scheduled meeting May 26. 

According to the staff report, the business community has suffered economic shut down and this would provide additional space for businesses to serve food and beverages and keep social distancing guidelines. Per the Governor’s recent ‘guidance’, allowing businesses to re-open and focus on outdoor space. 

“I whole heartedly support using outdoor spaces to accommodate more shoppers. We won’t get back to 100 percent for a long time, and this will allow restaurants to serve more,” said Councilman Robert Clarke. 

City Attorney Chip Wullbrandt stated it would be in several steps as this allows waivers of current rules related to outdoor expansions and the business owners need to come in an ask. 

The proposed Ordinance makes minor revisions to the City’s existing Code provisions as outlined are

– to clarify that the 300 square foot exception is for discretionary waiver of the Development Plan by the Planning Director rather than an additional right;

– that consistent with Section 11‐16‐4B the 300 square foot exception is for addition, alteration or replacement to an existing structure;

– adds provisions for the Planning Director to waive the Development Plan process for outdoor space for a restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge or wine tasting, including elimination up to two (2) parking spaces; and

– confirms that the business may request waiver of additional parking spaces by the City Council pursuant to the In Lieu Parking Fee provisions.

The ordinance will then go to the Planning Commission for their input and revisions before making a permanent ordinance, Wullbrandt added. 

Councilman Chris Djernaes said he thanked the staff and Wullbrandt for their hard work on this, and the motion passed unanimously. 

The council also extended the moratorium for evictions of residential and commercial tenants through July 31, 2020. The moratorium also uses a six‐month payback period following the emergency for tenants who invoke the protections of the moratorium.

The council also got an update on the County of Santa Barbara’s RISE Guide, which details the reopening of businesses per the Governor’s orders. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued a new health order stating that places of worship can provide in person services with 25 percent attendance or 100 attendees, whichever lower. 

Hair salons and barbershops also may provide in-person services both the worker and customer wear face coverings for the entirety of the service.  Services that cannot be performed with a face covering on both the worker and customer or that require touching of the customer’s face are not allowed. 

Graduation make be provided by streaming or in person if it’s conducted outdoors. All inside ceremonies are prohibited. 

All outdoor activities must be conducted in vehicles unless the total number of all attendees is less than 100 people. Otherwise diplomas, certificates can be distributed to the graduates in a car. 

More guidance and the full Health Officer Order can be viewed here: