January 1911 marked the founding of a new Danish colony in the Santa Ynez Valley. Settlers rooted the colony’s culture in the principles of community, education, and church. They selected the name Solvang, which means “sunny field” in Danish. The City of Solvang’s 110th anniversary commemoration, “Skål Solvang – Celebrating 110 Years of History & Culture,” will continue throughout 2021 with exhibits, events, and a milestone historical series.
Leading into this festive occasion, in September 2020, the Solvang City Council adopted a resolution to temporarily close a two-block area of Copenhagen Drive and design guidelines developed by the community’s Branding & Design Committee for Copenhagen Temporary Closure.
The committee established design guidelines for businesses that obtained encroachment permits to use public spaces. Their goal was twofold: to better enable social distancing and to complement Solvang’s old-world architecture. Creating a cohesive, budget-friendly, functional, and flexible style, the guidelines addressed items such as space dividers and barriers, planters, furnishings, and umbrellas. Solvang provided interest-free loans of $3,000 per business to assist with cash flow and compliance with the guidelines.
“As the Danish capital of America, tourism is the heart of our economy,” said Solvang City Manager Xenia Bradford. “Solvang is the third most dependent city in California on transient occupancy tax. The city generates 50 percent of its discretionary revenues from transient occupancy tax and 15 percent from sales tax.” She continued, “My favorite part of the Copenhagen Drive project is how it has cultivated the feeling of an authentic European downtown area.”
With guidance from the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA), the city also implemented safety features, including a minimum seven-foot clear path free of obstructions between sidewalk seating and the curb. Street seating, which cannot extend beyond the current parking strip, is marked and enclosed by at least one divider on the side and one divider for every seven feet of business frontage. Neither street seating nor sidewalk seating may block safety features such as no standing/no stopping zones, doorways, and Fire Department access.
“The city has been very proactive in responsibly serving its community,” said Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz. “For example, the Copenhagen Drive street closure has brought much-needed foot traffic to the local businesses. The city followed appropriate engineering and approval protocols to make this happen. Pedestrians are safer for it.”
Bradford cultivates a culture of risk awareness among her staff through both general and specific training.
“From a city manager’s perspective, the California JPIA is particularly valuable for a small organization,” said Bradford. “I’m responsible for variable issues from operations to public works to human resources to financial matters. I have grown to rely on guidance from the Authority because they understand and have timely information about those issues. We really are partners.”
About California JPIA
Providing innovative risk management solutions for its public agency partners for more than 40 years, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) is one of the largest municipal self-insurance pools in the state, with more than 120 member cities and other governmental agencies. Members actively participate in shaping the organization to provide important coverage for their operations. The California JPIA provides innovative risk management solutions through a comprehensive portfolio of programs and services, including liability, workers’ compensation, pollution, property, and earthquake coverage, as well as extensive training and loss control services. For more information, please visit the California JPIA’s website at cjpia.org.