Nevada City Council OKs outdoor dining thru Labor Day
Nevada City OKs outdoor dining through Labor Day
Outdoor dining in Nevada City passed official muster by unanimous approval Wednesday, assuring open air dining operations can continue through Sept. 6.
The driving force behind the measure was to allow food establishments, particularly restaurants, a means to continue to recover from financial hardships endured during the pandemic. It also included a provision to allow continued closure to vehicle traffic of the 200 block of Commercial Street.
Mayor Erin Minett said she was inclined to leave Commercial Street closed until construction on that roadway takes place as planned in mid-January, though the council agreed to stick to the Sept. 6 deadline, when it can reassess how operations went in the summer.
“I’m excited to see the plans for downtown this summer,” said Minett. “I’m looking forward to Summer Nights again. Golden Era has such great shows planned, and so does Miners Foundry. So, let’s put this thing together … it’s really good for the community and business. People want to come out in their hometown. So, let’s give them a place to come home to.”
However, there are several caveats stipulated in the permit that grants City Manager Joan Phillipe temporary land use authority to implement the plan. A select few of the requirements include: streets must have a 14-foot safety drive aisle accommodating emergency vehicles, barriers must surround diners at all times; no dining tables on sidewalks, unless there is 5 feet of clearance between tables and sidewalk edges; Americans with Disabilities Act compliance must be followed; no tents or canopies, though umbrellas are allowed if the same size as table tops; and service of alcohol is subject to approval of the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Council members agreed to allow amplified music, but only if the music is kept to 70 decibels as measured from 25 feet away. Vice Mayor Duane Strawser, who will become mayor next month, noted there have been multiple complaints from residents about loud music originating from outdoor dining venues on the streets as well as from Pioneer Park.
“Let’s give it a month and if we have one or two bad actors, city staff will have to visit them and deal with it,” said Strawser. “But let people do their thing and let’s trust they’ll do it right.”
Council member Daniela Fernandez pointed out the issue is not about businesses, but about an entire ecosystem system of commerce and livelihood.
“Golden Era booked 50 bands for next month and then we have the vibrancy which musicians have brought to the community,” said Fernandez. “Even if I don’t care for the type of music playing, it’s still a good feeling outside. It’s also about customers and being able to walk around and have communal feeling after being cooped up.”
City Attorney Dean Pucci said the issue of amplified music was not included on the agenda item for the outdoor dining permit. But if council reached a consensus with setting noise limitations to 70 decibels, it could be enforceable. And if there continued to be violations of the limit, the ordinance could be brought back to council for amendment.
Fernandez said Nevada City has businesses that have been respectful of public health in the last year and a half.
“They’ve pivoted, acted smart and made creative changes to stay in business in the pandemic,” she said. “So, I don’t want to punish anybody or take anything away — it’s important to allow it to remain.”
In other business, Strawser was nominated for the position of mayor and Council member Doug Fleming was nominated for vice mayor. Both Strawser and Fleming were elected unanimously. Strawser abstained in the vote for mayor. The men will begin their new roles next month.
Only one council meeting is set for July: at 6:30 p.m. July 22.
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
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