Capitola’s temporary outdoor dining program isn’t going anywhere any time soon—at least for restaurants that can afford new fees recently approved by Capitola City Council.
On April 28, the city council voted to once again extend its temporary outdoor dining ordinance first enacted in 2020 that was set to expire this month. But this time, the extension comes at a price to local restaurant owners.
Restaurants that want to continue to provide outdoor dining through the city’s temporary program must make a $500 deposit and pay the city $1.25 per square foot of its parklet in monthly rent. There are 18 restaurants participating in the program. Those that choose to continue the program will have their permits extended until two months after the city’s proposed permanent ordinance receives approval from the Coastal Commission.
“We’re still in recovery,” said local business owner Doug Conrad, who called in during Thursday’s meeting. “The rent right now, we can’t afford that.”
As pandemic restrictions have eased, the city has tried to implement a new permanent outdoor dining ordinance, one that will charge restaurant owners $34,000 per year and provide stricter design standards for outdoor parklets. But this endeavor has been delayed by bureaucratic slowdowns.
In December, Capitola sent its draft ordinance to the Coastal Commission for approval. Since then, it has gone back and forth with the agency, and it could be another four months before the commission gives Capitola the go-ahead for its permanent program.
In the meantime, Capitola continues to lose an estimated $7,587 per month, as a byproduct of restaurants using the city’s coveted parking spaces to provide outdoor seating to customers. Restaurant owners can ask questions and weigh in on the prototypes for parklets during a Zoom meeting on May 11 at 10am.
Those interested can email Community Development Director Katie Herlihy at [email protected]