Business to pay fee for outdoor use |

Business to pay fee for outdoor use

Mill St. restaurants to pay outside table fee

Mill Street businesses that want a presence on the sidewalk and curb will have to pay a daily fee.

The Grass Valley Council on Tuesday unanimously chose to implement a $2 daily fee. That fee will be formalized into a one-year lease among restaurants with tables and chairs outside.

The targeted area is on Mill Street, between Main and Neal streets.

Businesses not serving food but wanting to extend their retail space outdoors will also pay the fee. However, they can rent the space per day or for a long holiday weekend rather than commit to a yearly lease.

Council member Bob Branstrom asked about a clothing store that wanted, for example, to park a rack of clothes on the sidewalk.

“Would that be OK if formalized in an agreement, or would he be renting that space as well?”

City Manager Tim Kiser said he viewed the sidewalk as partially the responsibility of property owners, as outlined in street and highway codes and the way government interprets rules for sidewalks.

“So we tell retailers to leave 5 to 6 feet access” he said. “You want to put a rack of clothes on the sidewalk, as long as there’s the 5- to 6-foot clearance, we’re not going to get into monitoring that issue.”

However, Kiser added that it would defeat the purpose of the Mill Street project — making it pedestrian friendly — if it became too crowded with restaurant tables

“I would say no more than 40% of the block initially, maybe lower, and see what we get there,” he said.

He also talked about signage issues. “The city’s been a little relaxed on A-frame signs since COVID,” Kiser said. “But that is something once we move out of COVID we need to move into compliance. Even the city has A-frames urging mask wearing. But businesses are a partnership with the city on sidewalks and we hold them responsible (for shared) maintenance.

Initially proposed at $5, the fee was reduced to $2 after a recommendation by Kiser. He is working with businesses to expedite the permits, expected to be completed by mid- to late September.

Restaurants will get a credit for fees mid-November through January, when people rarely want to dine outside because of the weather.

“It’s important that during business hours, tables are the restaurants to use,” said Kiser. “But during non-business hours those tables are to be open to the public.”

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at

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