City Discusses Reopening and Downtown Parklets at City Council Meeting

Tuesday, May 19, the Paso Robles City Council met virtually for another meeting. As our county moves further into stage two, we find ourselves again, navigating some uncharted waters, only this time, into a more positive direction.

This year will mark the 90th Annual Pioneer Day, our community’s most significant celebration. Since the first Pioneer Day was held on October 12, 1931, the day was meant to be free for the community to enjoy. 

While that is still meant to be the case 90 years later, this year, for the first time, the Pioneer Day committee is asking the community to come and shop at local businesses. Assuming we will be able to have a Pioneer Day celebration in downtown Paso, the day will be a great way to celebrate Paso Robles and support its local businesses.

As our state opened stage two of reopening, police departments in every city have been handling reopening phases differently. Some are more aggressive than others. How is Paso Robles Police Department going to handle the reopening of businesses and our community altogether?

Police Chief, Ty Lewis, “Today, in Paso Robles no criminal enforcement action has been taken to enforce these executive orders,” instead the police department has been taking an educational approach to helping guide businesses through the various guidelines.

During the meeting on May 26, the council voted to direct staff to continue with the current complaint-driven and educative approach.

In the case of a business not being compliant with current regulations in place, Lewis proposed a five-step approach that he hoped would be a fair, flexible, and reasonable framework that should cover almost all circumstances they may run into. Currently, the “County Sheriff and District Attorney have indicated they will not take enforcement action against community members except in most egregious of circumstances” per the Council Agenda Report.

Aside from hearing from the community their desires to reopen as quickly as possible, Lewis has also had concerns come from the other side of the fence, those who are worried about consequences of opening too quickly.

If there is a complaint of a business not following procedures in place and violates county orders, the police department will follow Lewis’s five-part education, compliance, and enforcement process which consists of the following: 

  1. Investigation of Alleged Violations
  2. Education on Best Practices
  3. Determination of Appropriate Follow-Up
  4. Administrative Enforcement Actions
  5. Criminal Investigation 

For more in-depth information on the five-step educational approach for violations, the Council Agenda Report can be found at prcity.com/AgendaCenter.

Downtown Park Dining & Parklets

With many of Paso Robles restaurants opening back up and offering dine-in again, several ideas have been brought up on how to provide restaurants with more dining room to accommodate social distancing.

Picnic benches have been brought into Paso Robles City Park to allow for customers to pick up food orders and enjoy a family meal in the park. There is also a potential for City Park Dining with alcohol consumption that would align with the proposed City Park Dining Program. Park dining would be dedicated to the hours of “Thursday — Sunday nights — 5 to 10 p.m. beginning when authorized by State and County guidelines and extending through Labor Day”.

In addition to adding park benches for dining, City Council is mulling around the idea of parklets and street closures.

Parklets are created by turning a few parking spots in front of the business or restaurant into seating. The cost and responsibility for building a parklet would be at the business owners and entirely up to them if they wanted to create one. Because parking spots are open to the public, they are subject to the public right of way—meaning anyone would be able to sit there at any time.

Several options for street closures were also presented. It was suggested during a Chamber of Commerce Roundtable Group for the City Council to consider the “option of closing streets with numerous restaurants and then allow the restaurants to place additional tables in the street for dining. Park and 12th streets were suggested as options with closures occurring during the same hours as the Park Dining program (Thursday -Sunday nights – 5 to 10 p.m.)”.

At the end of a very long and late meeting, the City Council decided to move forward with the enhanced City Park dining program, a no for now on street closures, and requested more discussion on parklets.

For more information on the temporary uses of the public right-of-way – parklets, street closures, and City Park seating, visit https://www.prcity.com/AgendaCenter.

The next City Council meeting will be held on June 2, and we are now well aware, much can change between now and then. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles