Being popular isn’t always a good thing. Just ask Chick-fil-A.

The city of Santa Barbara will consider declaring the restaurant on State Street a “public nuisance.”

The eatery is such a hit with Santa Barbara residents that cars regularly back up from the parking lot into the street and travel lane, blocking access for motorists and bicyclists.

The City Council on Tuesday plans to vote to set March 1 as the date to have a hearing on the fate of Chick-fil-A.

“Previous attempts to remedy the situation informally have been unsuccessful,” a city staff report states. “It is unlawful to stop in the travel lane, and there are traffic control signs posted advising motorists not to stop in the travel lane, but Chick-fil-A customers routinely ignore those signs.”

Derrick Bailey, the city’s principal transportation engineer, said in a letter to the council that there’s no hope for a remedy. 

“Based on the existing environment, I do not believe that a reasonable solution exists to safely accommodate the queue within the public right of way,” Bailey wrote. “Further, I do not believe that on-site improvements can be made that will prevent the queue from blocking State Street.”

The city also doesn’t want to assign a police officer to the area to ticket motorists because “it is not an effective remedy, creating its own problems and requiring a substantial expenditure of public resources.”

Noozhawk spoke with Chick-fil-A employees on Monday at the restaurant, but they said they were not allowed to talk on the record. A group of employees was huddling in a conference room to prepare for Tuesday’s council meeting.

According to Bailey’s letter, the line out the Chick-fil-A blocks the nearby Rusty’s Pizza drive-through 15 times a day. In addition, the average daily time cars queue out into the street is 70 minutes on weekdays and 91 minutes on Saturday.

The restaurant is closed on Sundays. 

Chick-fil-A has attempted to manage the situation by creating two lines on the property, and assigning workers to take orders in the driveway to speed up the process.

The restaurant at 3707 State St. opened Feb. 7, 2013, at the space formerly filled by Burger King.

Also on the Agenda: Rent Control

The city wants to spend $200,000 on a consultant contract to take a deep dive on the issue of rent control.

In addition to the $200,000 cash expenditure requested in the report, the city staff estimates that an ongoing operation of a rent-stabilization program could require 3-7 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, which would force the city to dip into its reserve funds. 

The council in December voted 4-3 to kickstart an ordinance that would cap annual residential rent increases at 2% for apartments, plus an annual consumer price index adjustment.

Current state law limits residential rent increases to 5%, plus the percentage change in the cost of living, over a 12-month period, or 10%, whichever is lower.

Since that Dec. 7 meeting, staff has concluded that the Beverly Hills Rent Stabilization Ordinance “provides a viable template for an interim rent stabilization ordinance for the city of Santa Barbara,” subject to very substantial start-up costs and ongoing budget impacts.

The city also plans to create a rental registry that documents the number and location of rental units in the city, and conduct the longer-term fiscal and policy analysis.

The proposed city ordinance would not apply to duplexes or single-family homes. 

The council voted to move the rent control proposal forward under a different mayor, but now that Randy Rowse was elected, it remains to be seen politically if the rent control ordinance will have enough votes to move forward, or win approval. 

Budget Going Online Only

The city wants to transition from a printed budget document to an interactive, digital budget book, “which would be presented in a more understandable way, broaden citizen engagement, and strengthen public trust.”

The City Council plans to vote on a contract worth $674,000 over five years with OpenGov Inc. to transtion to the interactive document.

Moving from a printed budget document could save about 200 staff hours, which could be diverted to other activities, such as budgetary analysis or quality control as a result of efficiencies. The city would save about $5,000 in printed document costs for paper, binders, toner, and other items, the staff report states.

“Implementing this project is in line with greater sustainability and resilience goals of the city through leveraging technology to disseminate information to a broad audience and minimizing the use of paper and other materials,” according to a city staff report.

Bjork Appointment?

In closed session Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council will consider appointing interim City Administrator Rebecca Bjork to the job permanently. 

The closed session staff report states that “Council hold a closed session to consider employment of the interim city administrator and the appointment of a regular city administrator.”

Former City Administrator Paul Casey stepped down from the position in August, and the council appointment Bjork to the job on a temporary basis. 

The discussion is set for 30 minutes; it is unclear if the council will appoint Bjork, open up a national search, or take some other action.

The City Council is allowed to meet in private for personnel items, but must publicly report its vote if the group takes action, per the state’s Open Meetings Law — the Ralph M. Brown Act. 

Also, Matt Fore, the city’s former senior assistant to the City Administrator, was just hired in Goleta as the city’s first general services director. 

The closed session it at 11 a.m. and the regular council meeting begins at 2 p.m.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.