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By Mike Hazlip–
Citrus Heights residents may soon have more choices for dining al fresco as local restaurants may be given a temporary option to use more outdoor space for additional seating.
The City Council on Thursday will consider a “COVID relief” action that will temporarily allow restaurants to convert up to 50% of their required parking spaces into outdoor dining areas. If passed, the action will relax regulations for outdoor dining, signage, and parking for local eateries.
According to draft language of the proposal, the city will not require a permit to establish outdoor dining as long as specific accessibility and safety guidelines must be met.
The proposal, initiated by city staff, comes amid California’s “Roadmap to Recovery,” which encourages the use of outdoor space to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The action aims to “ensure restaurants and retailers have the greatest ability to operate successfully through the recovery process,” according to a meeting agenda packet released on Friday.
The packet says expanded outdoor spaces will have to close by 10 p.m. on weeknights, and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Alcoholic beverages are proposed to be allowed in the extended spaces, provided regulations from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board requiring a physical barrier are met.
Local restaurants would be allowed to use tents and umbrellas that are weighted down and do not obstruct public right-of-way. Tents must be less than 400-square-feet in size, according to the draft guidelines. Multiple tents are allowed.
The program is slated to run through Dec. 31, 2020. Restaurants wanting to continue outdoor dining beyond that date would then need the usual required permits.
Businesses would be required to obtain consent from property owners, and also comply with any applicable safety standards. A valid Citrus Heights General Business License is also required to be eligible.
This week’s proposal comes after the City Council voted June 11 to extend a senior meal delivery stimulus program, in an effort to help local restaurants generate additional revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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