Bill to expand outdoor dining, including in Monterey County, signed into law – Monterey Herald


SACRAMENTO – A bill that will help struggling restaurants by empowering local jurisdictions and giving the Alcoholic Beverage Control Department more flexibility for businesses to expand outdoor dining was signed by Governor Newsom on Friday.

Assembly member and legislator Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, said many neighborhood restaurants are the backbone of communities across the state and are barely hanging on. He recognized that alfresco dining has been a vital lifeline that has helped keep the doors of these establishments open during tough times.

Assembly Bill 61 provides restaurants with regulatory flexibility on several key issues, including allowing more outdoor food preparation and service, allowing restaurants to better use their own spaces to increase capacity outdoor catering and expanding the existing alcoholic beverage control board controls allowing outdoor alcohol service. local. The bill also includes an emergency clause, which means that the measure comes into force immediately.

The restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard due to COVID-19 restrictions, and many towns in Monterey County have allowed businesses to serve outdoors with a focus on public health and the survival of residents. small enterprises. Many of these companies have made significant investments to stay afloat. The legislation has the potential to make alfresco dining a permanent fixture for businesses across the region.

Gabriel has said he sees outdoor dining as a lifeline for restaurants and AB 61 aims to provide a level of certainty that outdoor dining will be allowed in the future.

Last week, Carmel City Council again approved a 30-day extension for restaurant parking lots and private wine tasting spaces with rental fees for parking spaces due this week.

All existing temporary parking lots are allowed to stay until close of business on November 12, but will be required to pay the monthly rental fee of $ 842 per parking spot no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday. Fees not received on time may cause the city to remove parkland and other materials from the public right-of-way at the expense of the business owner. Restaurants that remove parklets before October 12 do not have to pay the fee.

The Town of Carmel is considering adopting a long term parklet policy.

The City of Monterey has permitted outdoor dining and heaters on municipal docks one and two on the public right-of-way. It currently has no fees for eating out permits and does not have parklets – parking spaces used for alfresco eating and drinking – in part thanks to the city’s work in recent years. who tested and built outdoor rest areas along Alvarado Street. These are tried and true, as are the alfresco dining on the public right of way on Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row.

The Town of Seaside reports that it is working on an updated and ongoing outdoor dining program that would apply to dining areas created in parking lots and along sidewalks. This program would replace the temporary use of parking and outdoor spaces by restaurants, which was authorized under the city’s local emergency declaration.

Seaside City staff are currently finalizing the details of the program, which will then need to be approved by City Council for adoption and implementation. The draft program required companies to pay both a one-time permit application fee and an annual permit fee, but the fee and the amount of the fee are subject to council input and approval.

The City of Pacific Grove has a program in effect until May 2022 with waived fees and hearings for sidewalk eating permits, encroachment permits to allow parking reservation for curbside service and take-out, administrative use permits to allow temporary outdoor dining on private property, and its parklet program to allow outdoor dining in city parking lots.

AB 61 enjoys bipartisan support as state lawmakers have seen the level of suffering the restaurant industry has endured and are keen to help these businesses.

Although the National Restaurant Association reports modest job growth over the past two months, with California leading the country in job creation, employment remains below pre-pandemic levels and near four out of five restaurants are understaffed. The association reported 2.5 million jobs lost in 2020. In the first three months of the pandemic, the restaurant and restaurant industry lost around $ 120 billion in sales. In August 2021, California had 234,800 fewer dining establishments than in August 2019.

Gabriel said lawmakers saw AB 61 as part of a multi-pronged approach to restaurant relief. There is relief at the federal level through Small Business Administration programs, at the state level through grants and loans to small businesses, and then this regulatory effort that reduces some of the regulatory burden, extending flexibility to help to increase sales and get these businesses back on their feet. solid base.

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