Nevada City takes it to the streets: Outdoor dining opens up on Commercial and Pine streets (PHOTO GALLERY)
Nevada City has joined Grass Valley in its efforts to provide a pedestrian only outdoor dining and seating area, helping businesses cope with restrictions to indoor dining by blocking off portions of Commercial and Pine streets.
“Grass Valley obviously set the bar with Mill Street,” Nevada City Vice Mayor Duane Strawser said about the closure of Mill Street to vehicle traffic. “A lot of people said ‘Hey, why can’t we do it here?’”
By Monday, the closure of Commercial Street between the Three Forks parking lot and Pine Street, as well as Pine Street between Commercial and Broad streets, had commenced.
Within the cordoned off areas, picnic tables with shade umbrellas have popped up.
While visitors and members of the community have begun to sing their praises of Nevada City’s efforts, some business owners were caught off guard.
“I think it’s one of those things that for lack of a better option we had to come up with something,” Strawser said of Nevada City’s decision to close the streets. “No matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy.”
According to Strawser, closing York Street and even Broad Street was considered.
“Commercial (Street) made more sense, and Pine Street,” Strawser said. “It’s one of the central locations that all of our restaurants can use.”
“A lot of people were mad that we thought we were closing it down for Friar Tuck’s,” Strawser said.
“We’re definitely not doing it to reward them. We’re doing it to accommodate all of our restaurants.”
Friar Tuck’s is one of three businesses county officials say had its food permit revoked because of failure to comply with state COVID-19 orders.
According to Taylor Wolfe, county administrative analyst, the three restaurants have since ceased indoor operations, made coronavirus business plans and reopened. The county is working with attorneys for the businesses on their fines, each totaling around $5,000.
“My thing is I wish there was some discussion about it,” Solstice owner Laura Parker said of the street closures.
Parker, whose business fronts a good portion of Pine Street between Broad and Commercial streets, was surprised to show up to work and find barricades blocking her access. She was even more surprised to find that her vehicle, which she uses to deliver her surplus, was about to be towed while she was stocking her store.
“We had no input,” Parker said.
While Parker is ultimately in support of Nevada City’s efforts to provide more outdoor options during these trying times, she is hopeful that city officials might grant her and her employees some sort of loading and unloading pass.
“I just don’t want to get towed,” Parker said.
Other business owners aren’t as hopeful that the closure of Pine Street is a good idea, citing fire and emergency vehicle access as well as the potential for loitering.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Strawser said of the project. “I know we put out the word for two weeks the best we could. We definitely didn’t try to keep anyone out of the loop.”
Strawser added that any downtown Nevada City merchants with suggestions, questions or concerns about the project are asked to contact City Manager Catrina Olson and Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis.
“We told city staff to work with and be flexible with all of our merchants,” Strawser said.
Olson and Mayor Erin Minett couldn’t be reached for comment.
To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email, email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
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