By Janene Scully

Noozhawk North County Editor


Citing COVID-19-related street closures, the Solvang City Council decided Monday night to defer any decision regarding allowing a second horse-drawn carriage firm to operate.

DoubleTree Carriages applied to operate horse-drawn carriages in the city, but Councilwoman Karen Waite made a motion to deny the request and suggested that the business reapply later.

Waite said she made the motion “because of the closures of our streets, the congestion and the difficulty in finding routes for multiple businesses such as this.”

At Mayor Ryan Toussaint’s suggestion, Waite amended her motion to urge DoubleTree Carriages to reapply once the city can lift restrictions related to the public health orders.

Solvang Trolley already operates horse-drawn conveyances in the city and recently received a renewal of its license, with calls for extending the renewal beyond a year. 

Because of public health orders, Copenhagen Drive, one key route in the city, has been closed to allow businesses to operate while accommodatjng social-distancing rules.

Representatives of DoubleTree Carriages did not speak during Monday night’s meeting and apparently did not attend. The firm is listed as being located in Norco and Phelan but has claimed it is moving to Solvang.

When contacted by Noozhawk on Wednesday, representative Kathy Romero said she didn’t know that the Solvang council had met and declined to say anything more.

The item initially was scheduled for earlier this month but was delayed to Monday’s meeting at the request of the applicant.

The topic drew multiple speakers calling for the city to not grant a license to the new operation, to deny the Solvang Trolley license extension and to ban all horse-drawn carriages from the city.

The agenda item was restricted to only the DoubleTree Carriage application.

Opponents, many from animals rights organizations across the nation, called for a switch to electric trolleys or other types of conveyances.

Veterinarian Paula Kislak of Santa Barbara and a board member for the Humane Society of the United States said horses pulling carriages can become injured.

“There are so many other kinds of transportation and so many better forms of entertainment that aren’t abusive to animals,” she said.

Solvang resident Susan Bott urged the council to consider existing traffic congestion, noting that in addition to normal cars, trucks and buses, city residents deal with pedestrians, Moke electric vehicles, rickshaws, surrey cycles and the trolley.

“They all have the same effect of slowing traffic to a crawl. This animal-drawn conveyance license application, if approved, would simply add more congestion to our streets,” Bott said. “When will enough be enough?”

Djernaes called for a survey of the community about electric trolleys and other issues.

“I want to know what the community feels and thinks,” Djernaes said.

When Solvang Trolley’s license renewal came up, a number of speakers and letter writers called for the City Council to support the longtime local business.

Saying he is a not a fan of horse-drawn conveyances, Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Clarke noted that he based his concern on what residents of Solvang want.

“But I have to comment on the irony. I truly believe everybody made comments in Philadelphia, Chicago, etc., made very good points and I understand their points,” Clarke said. “But the irony of coming from Chicago — that they got the City Council to ban horse carriages and you’ve got kids being slaughtered in the streets and hundreds of people being shot every single weekend in Chicago. … And this is what we’re talking about from Chicago.

“If it was any other city in the country, I would probably pay more attention, but to come from Chicago is just priceless.”

Possible revisions to the ordinance with considerations for extending the issuance of horse-drawn carriage licenses up to five years, not one, will appear on a future council agenda, City Manager Xenia Bradford said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at