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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 2:10 pm | Fair 63º


Santa Barbara Council May Put Brakes on Tour Bus Parking in Municipal Bus Stops

Ordinance Committee considers changing parking rules to free up access for local buses, may target unauthorized parking signs

Santa Barbara may start limiting tour bus parking, especially in the busy waterfront areas. Buses can use any of the Metropolitan Transit District bus and shuttle stops, including the ones on Cabrillo Boulevard. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara may start limiting tour bus parking, especially in the busy waterfront areas. Buses can use any of the Metropolitan Transit District bus and shuttle stops, including the ones on Cabrillo Boulevard. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

The City of Santa Barbara may limit parking for tour buses and stop them from using municipal bus stops throughout the city.   

Any vehicle defined as a bus can use the city’s bus and shuttle stops, which are created for the Metropolitan Transit District. Visiting tour buses commonly use them for parking, particularly along Cabrillo Boulevard next to the beach.

That practice can cause problems when MTD buses and shuttles need to load and unload passengers, transportation engineer Derrick Bailey said at last week’s Ordinance Committee meeting.

Public Works Department officials want to redefine which buses can use the MTD bus and shuttle stops, and the City Council will consider changing the ordinance at a future meeting.

Bailey said the city will work with commuter companies, such as Clean Air Express and Vista, and local tourism companies to give them parking access.

Santa Barbara Trolley, for one, is cooperative with the city and should be allowed to use the stops as long as bus operations aren’t impeded, Bailey said.

As part of the ordinance changes, Santa Barbara may put time limits on waterfront tour bus parking, with overflow parking on Montecito Street after passengers unload. There is high demand for curb space in the Funk Zone, Bailey said.

MTD executive director Jerry Estrada said tour bus parking in bus spots can create a problem, and the agency supports the proposed changes.

The three Ordinance Committee members — Council members Frank Hotchkiss, Cathy Murillo and Randy Rowse — forwarded the issue to the full council, which will consider adopting the changes.

The committee also discussed a ban on unauthorized parking signs.

Illegal traffic signs that can create hazards — such as unauthorized stop signs or speed limit signs — are taken down by police, but there are technically no laws against unauthorized parking signs in the city.

New city rules would go after people who put up customer-only parking signs or other limited parking signs within the public right of way, where everyone is allowed to park.

It’s common for people to post these types of private parking or customer-only parking sings on property lines facing out into the street, Bailey said, “giving the impression street parking is somehow reserved or restricted when really, public parking is for the use of all.”

With the new rules, city staff would start an administrative citation process to get those signs removed, instead of going to police.

Bailey said the city finds out about most of the unauthorized signs from citizen complaints, and the rule change is an attempt to prevent conflict between businesses and neighbors.

The change would not affect parking rules in private property lots.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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