Here’s where outdoor dining in Capitola stands — and when it could become a permanent fixture
With the prototype program being formed, outdoor dining would be able to continue in Capitola Village permanently. But the proposed plan would reduce the number of parklets from 50 to 25. Part of the rationale is to help ensure “coastal access” per the Coastal Commission’s requirements.
It’s been well-documented how vital outdoor dining was for restaurants the past year.
As some local ordinances such as the one Capitola implemented near their expiration dates, the question looms: What’s the future of outdoor dining?
Last week, the Capitola City Council voted in favor of adopting a prototype program to help make outdoor dining a permanent fixture after the current ordinance is scheduled to expire on Sept. 13. The only caveat: The amount of space currently dedicated to outdoor dining will be cut in half to appease Coastal Commission access concerns.
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“We are hoping to have a permanent outdoor dining program in place by January or February ,” Capitola Community Development Director Katie Herlihy said via email. “While the ordinance is going through the process, we will be working on a prototype outdoor dining deck and parklet design.”
With the prototype program, outdoor dining would be able to continue in Capitola Village permanently. But the proposed plan would reduce the number of parklets from 50 to 25. Part of the rationale is to help ensure “coastal access” per the Coastal Commission’s requirements, Herlihy said.
Some restaurants with surplus outdoor seating were opposed to a permanent program earlier this year.
Capitola outdoor dining
Quick hits on Capitola outdoor dining ordinance
- The current ordinance is set to expire Sept. 13.
- A new prototype program is in development that would reduce the number of parklets from 50 to 25.
- Following review, the city council will hold two public hearings, in August and September.
- If approved, the program will need final certification from the Coastal Commission. The process could take up to three months.
- A permanent outdoor dining program is scheduled to be in place by early 2022.
Last year, when outdoor dining was implemented under an emergency order, the parking spaces were allowed to be turned into parklets. The removal of parking spaces along Esplanade and Monterey Avenue cost Capitola nearly $140,000 in parking revenue.
As planning moves forward, the city is looking to model a parklet prototype program being used in Los Gatos. Businesses may opt in to the program. The actual design of the dining areas is still under consideration. According to Herlihy, businesses are allowed to share their input and design their own custom parklets; however, such designs will be subject to review from the city’s planning commission.
“The prototype design creates a streamlined process for businesses to opt into the pre-approved design, which will be building plan-ready. The other option is to create a custom design, which will require planning commission approval,” she said.
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The program is also expected to implement a leasing structure as businesses opt in for a year or multiyear lease. The funds generated from the parklet program will then be reinvested into coastal access such as creating a shuttle program, adding bike racks or renovations along the coastal park.
As the September deadline nears, the parklet ordinance will go under review with the planning commission next month. Following the review, the city council plans to hold two public hearings, tentatively in August and September. Once the ordinance is approved, it will move to the Coastal Commission for final approval. The Coastal Commission’s certification process could take up to three months, Herlihy said.
The parklet program is expected to be available to restaurants in Capitola Village.