The city of Santa Barbara spent as much $2 million in emergency response costs over the Thomas Fire and another $7 million on the debris flow and mudslides that hit the southern end of Coast Village Road.
Nina Johnson, assistant to the city administrator, gave a report to the City Council on Tuesday, outlining the impacts from December’s Thomas Fire and January’s Montecito mudslides. Several other representatives from business organizations also spoke at the meeting.
The city is eligible to recover up to 94 percent of its costs to respond to the disasters through the Federal Emergency Management Association and and the California Office of Emergency Services.
Other losses won’t be reimbursed.
The city saw a combined loss of sales and hotel bed taxes of about $1.5 million. Recreation classes and facility rentals were down about $15,000.
The city estimates a loss of between $100,000 and $200,000 in rents and parking revenues to its Waterfront fund and another $300,000 in lost revenue to the Downtown Parking Fund.
“This has been one of the greatest impacts to the city of Santa Barbara,” said City Administrator Paul Casey. “Business have really been hurt. It’s unprecedented on the South Coast.”
The heavy smoke and ash in the air also brought golf to a halt; the city said it lost an estimated $50,000 in green fees at its city golf course.
The city is also taking steps to help businesses.
It plans to issue a refund totalling $22,000 to 43 businesses who leased the public sidewalk for outdoor dining space in December and January. The city is also allowing hotels to defer payment of their bed taxes for 60 days without penalty to help hotel and lodging establishments with cash-flow needs
So far, eight businesses have used the program, totalling $79,280.
Bob Ludwick, president of the Coast Village Association, said Coast Village Road and the surrounding community was devastated financially.
“We were crushed and had almost no holiday traffic,” Ludwick said.
He said businesses lost 70 percent of their sales, or about $10 million in December. In January, he said, another $5 million in sales were lost.