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Parking RegualtionsWaterfront

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why the changes?

Available parking spaces in the Harbor Main Lot (and Waterfront lots in general) have long been in high demand. Over the past several years, however, that demand has increased considerably, due to growing popularity of local watersports like stand-up paddleboarding, the emergence of the Funk Zone as a popular destination and the reopening of Lower State Street. Also, over time, some residents and businesses, recognizing the advantages of a Waterfront General Permit vs. on-street parking or standard vehicle storage, began abusing well-intended parking policies by storing vehicles (or goods/merchandise inside vehicles) in the Harbor Main Lot. The cumulative result was unprecedented parking demand that was limiting public access to the coast.

Were public meetings held to discuss the changes?

Yes. A total of five public meetings were held to discuss the proposed changes. Waterfront staff held a public workshop on June 13, 2019, to assess parking issues in Waterfront parking lots. Based on public input, Waterfront staff developed proposed amendments to Waterfront parking regulations which were approved (3-0) by the Harbor Commission Parking Subcommittee on July 22, 2019. The Harbor Commission unanimously (6-0) approved the proposed amendments at their meeting of August 15, 2019. The Ordinance Committee of the City Council unanimously (2-0) approved the proposed amendments on September 24, 2019. City Council approved the proposed amendments on October 8, 2019.

What are the changes?

The following vehicles are not eligible to purchase a 2020 red or blue Annual Parking Permit:

• Any vehicles exceeding: - 22 feet in length

- 90 inches in height (7 feet, 6 inches)

- 82 inches in width (6 feet, 10 inches)

• Buses

• Recreational Vehicles (RVs)

• Motorhomes

• Campers

• House Cars

• Vehicles used for commercial purposes unrelated to maritime or ocean uses (for example: cab/taxi companies, landscape contractors, commercial businesses).

Please note: Vehicles that exceed these size limitations are still welcome in all Waterfront parking lots. However, these vehicles will be required to pay standard hourly/daily rates.

Are there exceptions to the new size limits?

Yes, there are exceptions to the new size limits. The Waterfront Director or his/her designee may grant waivers when size limits are exceeded by a vehicle necessary to support ocean-dependent needs, including but not limited to commercial fishing, lease-holder businesses, Business Activity Permit holders, or oil-spill response. Live aboard status does not qualify as an ocean-dependent need.

Are there changes to Slip Permittee Annual Parking Permits?

Yes. Previously, vehicles affixed with a Slip Permittee Annual Parking Permit (Blue Permit) were allowed to park in the Harbor Main Lot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and would never have to move their vehicle as long as it was operable. The new regulations allow Blue Permit holders to park for a maximum of 30 consecutive days in the Harbor Main Parking Lot. On Day 30, the vehicle must exit the Harbor Main Parking Lot for a minimum of ninety-six (96) consecutive hours before being allowed back into the Harbor Main Parking Lot.

Are there changes to the General Annual Parking Permits?

Yes. Vehicles affixed with a General Annual Parking Permit (Red Permit) are allowed to park for 72-hours in the Harbor Main Parking Lot. Previously, vehicles with Red Permits were allowed to exceed the posted 72-hour limit in the Harbor Main Lot if they received permission from the Waterfront Department. The intended beneficiaries of this policy were individuals who were on extended marine-related activities such as a multi-day sailing or diving trip. However, more often than not, these extensions were made for people who left town for, longer than 72 hours, and did not want to store their vehicle at the airport or other location. Recognizing the needs of those who are conducting marine-related activities, the new regulations will continue to allow for extensions beyond 72 hours but extensions will only be allowed for maritime reasons.

When do the changes take effect?

Current 2019 permits are good until the end of day on December 31, 2019. The changes will be implemented with the sale of the 2020 Annual Parking Permits which begin on December 1, 2019. Enforcement of the Ordinance changes will begin on January 1, 2020.

Where can I find the changes?

The entirety of Ordinance changes can be found in Santa Barbara Municipal Code Chapter 17.36 via this link:

Who should I contact with questions?

Please contact our Parking Services Office at 805-564-5523 or stop by the Waterfront Administration offices at 132-A Harbor Way.

Last Updated: Feb 28, 2020
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