Outdoor dining will be allowed under Santa Cruz law until the end of 2022.
Outdoor dining will be allowed under Santa Cruz law until the end of 2022.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

Santa Cruz City Council OKs outdoor dining extension, weighs in on ADUs & CZU grand jury report

During its Tuesday meeting, the Santa Cruz City Council approved an extension for temporary outdoor dining and the relocation of the Homeless Garden Project’s farm.

The Santa Cruz City Council agreed Tuesday to extend temporary dining permits until December 2022, with one city official called the measure “a lifeline for businesses.”

Economic Development Manager Rebecca Unitt said 96 businesses have applied for a temporary permit. Only five of those businesses have closed since the ordinance went into effect last year.

“It speaks to the power of this program and being a lifeline for businesses,” Unitt said.

The unanimous vote extends the measure, which was set to expire this December, for a year. In addition, the revised ordinance will allow the Department of Economic Development time to help streamline the permitting and approval process for businesses along with improving parklet designs.

“Everyone has recognized our businesses needed support throughout this time,” Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb said.

Unitt said the city will continue working with businesses on best practices as well as ways to implement a permanent plan by November 2022.

Grand jury report

During the meeting council members also responded to the CZU Fire report from the Santa Cruz Civil County grand jury, saying it was impractical to create fire safety community groups throughout the city.

Mayor Donna Meyers, responding on behalf of the council, also partly disagreed with the report findings regarding how the city has dealt with the fire dangers posed by homeless encampments. Specifically, the city took issue with the idea it has not done enough to clear these areas and has not been as transparent with the public as it could have been.

The report analyzed the effectiveness and response time from city and county leadership, including the city’s response and handling during and after the tragedy. It included nine findings and six recommendations, with the only one not fully or partly implemented being one regarding the establishment of FireWise communities in the wildland-urban interface area.

The decision to reject the recommendation, Meyers said, was the fact it was unrealistic to create such communities — which make up about two-thirds of the city’s area — within a 12-month timeline.

Additional decisions from the council:

  • Approved the relocation for the Homeless Garden Project’s Pogonip farm from its lower main meadow to its upper main meadow. The relocation of the farm was due to the discovery of lead contaminants at the lower level from a historic skeet shooting site.
  • Approved amendments to the municipal code for London Nelson Community Center. After the center was renamed earlier this year from Louden Nelson Community Center, city council members had to also pre-approve the municipal code for the newly named building.
  • Approved the appointment of Rosemary Mernard as interim city manager.
  • Approved plans for the San Lorenzo Riverwalk lighting project. The project is estimated to cost $875,000 and will provide lighting along the riverwalk on both the east and west sides of the river from Water Street to Highway 1.
  • Council also went through its second reading on the revised compromise regarding parking spaces for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) along the coastal zone. The revision allows for ADUs within 500 feet of the coast to have off-street parking. However, areas with limited parking along the zone will remain an exception.