While most of us have understanding about the effects of the Covid pandemic on American business and have empathy for the entertainment and restaurant industries, beach communities throughout California are using Covid as an excuse for a massive land grab of the public commons.
Communities throughout California are granting public sidewalk space to restaurants to enact outdoor dining whether they already have outdoor dining tables or not. These new spaces were previously in violation of public zoning laws. There seems to be no financial reasoning made public except for the restaurant owners claims of losses due to Covid. Consequently, local residents living in the area are expected to endure substantially more late night noise from local diners now on the street level nearer their residences.
These expanded spaces will limit an already small amount of parking spaces by the beach, impede the constant number of (usually large) delivery trucks for the restaurants and funnel pedestrians and bicyclists into smaller channels to get to the beaches as well as higher noise levels due to concentration of people on the limited sidewalk space. These restaurant extensions can be placed elsewhere besides areas of direct beach access.
The city of Capitola is going as far to make such changes as “permanent” even though no proof exists that the current Covid situation is perpetual. Essentially, that city is trying to change zoning laws that worked well for decades to gift city businesses with substantial square footage of what is the public’s land. Over ninety eight local residents who count on zoning for protection are being adversely affected there by these “new” proposals.
The only way to combat this theft of public land is to, first, become aware of this intention by city governments, secondly, to let city officials know that these changes are not wanted as permanent and to install city officials who are not wanting to give away public property just for an increase in local dollars from restaurants.
Soquel Expat, Forest Falls
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