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Outdoor dining extends into next year for Nevada City

Nevada City has approved extending outdoor dining and the closure of Commercial Street to vehicle traffic through the end of January.

The council unanimously approved the proposal at its Wednesday meeting.

Working as a point of contact with merchants and the broader community was an ad hoc committee of Council members Daniela Fernandez and Gary Petersen.



“Between residents, visitors, businesses, adjacent businesses, we’re hearing a resounding support for keeping outdoor dining and the Commercial Street closure,” Fernandez said. “And we hear consistently the same thing: People crave greater uniformity, design consistency, and a cohesive aesthetic.”

She also urged collaboration with a group of five merchants she met recently at a downtown Chamber of Commerce event who volunteered to help support city staff as an aesthetic committee, if the council were to approve it. Fernandez added that the city needs a long-term solution to what the future of outdoor dining will look like.




Supporting the extension, Mayor Duane Strawser proposed to make the end date Oct. 31, though he ultimately agreed to Jan. 31.

“Typically we don’t get hit with (poor) weather until November/December,” Strawser said. “And I’d like that we should not have inconsistency and tents crop up like before, unauthorized.”

The council intends to revisit the issue of tents in the coming months.

PARKING

City Engineer Bryan McAlister presented a proposal to install a pay station at the parking lot on Commercial Street, removing meters on the street and putting them on Spring and York streets.

The council agreed with the idea, though there’s no construction timeline. It’s expected to cost between $7,000 to $9,000. Savings are expected from the pay station, though no exact amount was given.

“A pay station is more convenient and sustainable,” McAlister said. “It’ll be solar powered and it accepts a credit card. It saves on batteries for meters that are needed to maintain their functionality. It saves lots of staff time from collecting quarters, and we can reuse meters from Commercial Street on York and Spring Street, centrally located downtown and fill the gaps with meters on streets that were never metered before.”

Meters are not just a means to generate city revenue, McAlister said, but encourage parking to be for a shorter time in order to make a space available to another user. Downtown meters are in close proximity to retail shops, the courthouse and post office, and are intended for brief errands.

One public commenter said there’s a need for more available parking for downtown employees. Strawser said the parking committee has had frequent discussions about employee permits for those working downtown. In the long term it proves to be cheaper than meters, and employees can avoid leaving work to feed the meter.

McAlister said the pay station can provide for long-term parking with a paid permit.

“They can’t be used on Broad or Spring Street, but they can be used at the Commercial Street parking lot,” he said.

Petersen said the pay station is a good idea and could work.

“But it’s important to shop that around and get the right equipment,” he added. “You can lease these and it cost less. When you buy you may end up paying a lot more than when you lease. You can then turn it in for an upgrade.”

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at wroller@theunion.com


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