San Clemente restaurants along the city’s popular Avenida Del Mar will have to start paying $ 200 per space monthly parking fees when California reopens.
The decision was taken by a 4-1 vote at a city council meeting on June 1 in an attempt to reclaim some of the downtown parking, now occupied by restaurants and retail stores, leaving little room for cars to park.
Restaurants along Avenida Del Mar took over the spaces last year after the state ordered restaurants to cease operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s economic development officer, Johnathon Lightfoot, told the council that the purpose of allowing restaurants to expand their dining room to car parks was to compensate for the effects of shutters’ indoor operations.
But when the state reopens on June 15, social distance is no longer necessary, and restaurants are free to refill their dining rooms.
“We have several restaurants that use public property, and what I suggest is to use a licensing agreement, similar to a rental agreement, to charge for the use of space in the public sector,” Lightfoot said.
“The program was initially intended to help these businesses recover capacity loss, and on June 15 they will be able to recover the capacity. But we have also learned over the past year that the community enjoys this convenience, and therefore it holds some public benefit to retain the element. ‘
Although the use of the parking lot for restaurants will no longer be free, the general idea among the council was to charge a fee that restaurants that could continue to expand outdoors could afford, but make it large enough for restaurants that not the need requires extra space.
Under the new rule, which runs until November 15, restaurants that want to use parking spaces to house their food must remove their tables and chairs from the city’s sidewalks.
“When we walk past some of these restaurants, and some of the tables have a very hard time walking through,” Mayor Kathleen Ward said. ‘And I can tell you, I went to the street to walk because I did not want to walk there. And so I really think it should stop, because it stopped me from going to the second block. ”
Apart from paying the fee, restaurants wishing to use parking spaces must also operate at least 8 hours a day for 6 days a week.
Micky Rathman, a San Clemente resident who owns a retail store on Avenida Del Mar, told the council that despite the lack of parking, she supports the expansion of outdoor dining options.
‘We are incredibly grateful for what [the council] done to help us remain a vibrant and downtown city that continues to serve our community, ‘Rathman said. ‘I do believe that the success of our business center is in the city center because we are all successful.
‘I think there are some other things we can do to help park downtown. It could be to have temporary Wayfinding signs so people visiting outside the city know that there is extra parking in streets outside [Avenida] Del Mar … I know we do not necessarily love signs in San Clemente, and therefore these Wayfinding signs may be temporary, just like the outside deck. ‘