Monterey County

Pacific Grove debates fencing for outdoor seating

Pacific Grove debates fencing for outdoor seating

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. - Controversy is brewing over a fence on a Central Coast sidewalk.  The city of Pacific Grove said it's trying to draw more foot traffic to local businesses.  But not at the expense of changing the look of the overall look on Lighthouse Avenue.  The city's planning commission is trying to figure out whether a fence around a patio at a local restaurant is a good fit or not, after it apparently got some complaints from residents.  

"I'm definitely deterred from opening a business here," said Ariana Favaloro, daughter of Cafe Ariana's owners.  

Cafe Ariana said the city approached them about the idea and they were all for it.

"All they asked for was a picture of what it would be like.  And in addition we included specifications for the building, and for the railings and a materials list just to cover all our bases," Favaloro said.  

Interim Community Development Director Steve Matarazzo said city started looking to other cities like Monterey, after recently installed outdoor seating areas began bringing in more business.

"I saw plans that showed everything Cafe Ariana plans to do and I approved those plans.  But it did not specify whether the fence would be affixed or not and currently the code does not allow any furniture or any thing to be affixed to the sidewalk," Matarazzo said.

The problem?  Some members of the planning commission are worried there's not enough room on the sidewalk for pedestrians, depite meeting the American Disabilities Act standard.  The ADA requirement is 48 inches but they actually have 53 inches between the pole and the fence.  Cafe Ariana said the outdoor area has brought in more business giving customers the option to dine al fresco.  In order to serve alcohol, some type of enclosure is required by the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.  The owners at Cafe Ariana feel the rug is being pulled out from underneath them.

"I think its kind of sad that there's opposition to this because Pacific Grove has always been a sleepy town and I know we've been here for almost 21 years and it hasn't been getting easier," Favaloro said.  

Making it easier on restaurants was the initial intention.  Other restaurants have patio areas without fencing along Lighthouse Avenue.  

"Well you might as well tell all these people who have patios on these streets without a fence to remove them because they're encroaching just as much as this fence is," said resident Bill Uretsky.  

The planning commission's concerns will be relayed at the next city council meeting.  One idea is to ask Cafe Ariana to remove the fencing for special events that may require more sidewalk space.

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