SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.—San Clemente City Council introduced an ordinance on March 15 that would resume outdoor dining in the city that was first implemented in 2020 due to COVID.
The five-seat city council voted 3–1 for the ordinance with one council member absent.
If passed after its second reading next month, the vote would repurpose parking spaces into outdoor dining patios and parklets near restaurants. It would also establish a monthly licensing fee.
“I’m in favor of the ordinance,” Councilman Steve Knoblock said during the meeting. “I’m in favor of the concept. I think it’s important even though COVID is over, [it] opened our eyes to what a wonderful environment it can be to have outdoor dining with [our] weather.”
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 61 and Senate Bill 314 which permitted outdoor dining to continue until the end of 2023, or a year after he decides to end the State of Emergency in response to COVID-19, whichever comes first.
In June 2020, city officials adopted a resolution permitting outdoor dining for local restaurants temporarily to help businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic until the program ended at the end of 2021.
“The council needs to consider … this is different than the last time,” Councilwoman Kathy Ward, who voted against the ordinance, said during the meeting. “This is a zoning amendment in response to the governor’s order, but it’s for localities to decide whether they want to continue and bring back outdoor dining.”
“It’s no longer because of COVID,” Ward said. “It’s not an emergency situation.”
If the ordinance passes, San Clemente residents and visitors would have the option to dine outside at participating restaurants near the city’s downtown shopping area and pier until the end of 2023, when the program expires.
The city would charge participating restaurants that convert public parking spaces into dining patios a rate of $4 per square foot and $1 per square foot for private spaces.
Restaurants that use handicapped spaces would need to find a replacement within 150 feet.
Seating platforms, known as parklets, cannot exceed more than 24 seats.
City staff said if the council passed the zoning amendment, the city’s general fund could receive an additional revenue between $5,000 to $10,000 per month.
Residents and business owners in downtown San Clemente who spoke during the meeting showed favor for the ordinance saying it boosted commerce, added to the city’s “charm,” and brought the community together.
“I believe that the outdoor dining will be an amenity to our community will really enjoy,” resident Miki Rathmann said during the public comments.
The next council meeting is scheduled to meet on April 5.
Original link : San Clemente Moves to Bring Back Outdoor Dining