Capitola pursues an ongoing outdoor dining program

Capitola could have more outdoor dining and less parking if a proposed program is accepted by the California Coastal Commission. (Kara Meyberg Guzman – Santa Cruz Local)

CAPITOL >> After more than a year of COVID-related restrictions on restaurants and an increase in outdoor dining, Capitola executives agreed on Thursday to continue an ongoing program to allow more seating in outdoor restaurants.

Capitola’s current outdoor dining law is set to expire in September. In a survey of Capitola Village restaurateurs, nine of 17 restaurateurs expressed interest in the program. In a survey of residents, 83% of respondents expressed interest.

Because Capitola Village’s zoning code prohibits outdoor dining, city ​​leaders must obtain approval from the coastal commission for the permanent program. To preserve parking access on the coast, the plan will provide 25 parking spaces for restaurants, about half of what was used during the pandemic.

The reduced space could accommodate any restaurants that have expressed an interest in continuing to eat al fresco, said Steve Jesberg, Capitola’s public works manager. The proposal, once final, could be submitted to the committee as early as September. This could be decided at a Coastal Commission meeting in December.

The proposed program would create semi-permanent outdoor park and restaurants in parking spaces throughout the village of Capitola as well as on the sidewalk of Monterey Avenue and on the Capitola Wharf. It would exclude Lawn Way. City council has allocated $ 20,000 to develop a standard park design, but will also consider custom designs from companies.

The city plans to remove permit fees for restaurants and charge $ 3,400 in annual rent per parking space to offset lost meter revenue. The restaurants will also be supported by construction, which could cost between $ 15,000 and $ 30,000.

In public comments, Linda Smith, a Capitola resident and former planning commissioner, said the program will be crucial for businesses recovering from the pandemic. “Having options to establish a parklet can be the difference between surviving and not surviving,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Sam Storey voted against the proposal as he did not agree with limiting the number of parking spaces to 25 and preferred to go to the Coastal Commission with a larger program. “I think we are negotiating with ourselves,” he said.

The board voted 3-1 in favor of the program. City councilor Margaux Keizer, an employee of the Paradise Beach Grille restaurant in Capitola Village, recused herself.

Capitola leaders on Thursday approved a plan to recruit a new police chief. (Kara Meyberg Guzman – Santa Cruz Local)

The search for a new police chief begins

The council unanimously approved a five-month plan to recruit a new police chief. Chief Terry McManus plans to retire in November.

The hiring process will begin in July with a series of community forums. Residents can share their priorities and preferred qualities for a new chef. “We want to have a very inclusive and transparent recruiting process,” said City Manager Jamie Goldstein.

The board has allocated $ 25,000 to recruitment agency Bob Murray & Associates. The agency assisted with the hiring of McManus in 2016. Candidates will be recruited from late July to September. In September and October, applicants will be interviewed by three committees: one with McManus and other law enforcement professionals, one with city employees, and one with community and business leaders. After all committees have interviewed each candidate, a new leader will be appointed in November.

Council members Kristen Petersen and Margaux Keizer volunteered for the interview committee with city service directors. The two board members currently sit on the Santa Cruz County Criminal Justice Council.

New approved budget

On Thursday, the board also unanimously approved the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget includes city improvements such as undergrounding utilities and a traffic improvement project on Park Avenue, as well as free feminine hygiene products in public washrooms.

The finalized budget also includes several proposals discussed at the May 6 board meeting. It includes $ 1.84 million in repairs to Capitola Wharf and the purchase of a van to transport children on excursions through after-school programs. The repairs to the dock and the van will be funded by federal funding from the US Rescue Plan. Hotel tax revenues will finance $ 33,000 for a grant program for local non-profit groups and $ 30,000 for the Recreation Division for early childhood and youth programs.

City employment contracts

After four months of negotiations, agreements were reached with most of the city’s employee bargaining groups. The council unanimously approved memoranda of understanding with confidential employees, department heads and the city manager. At a special meeting that followed Thursday’s city council meeting, agreements were approved with the Capitola Employees and Middle Managers Association.

The agreements provided for increases in the cost of living of 2% to 3%. Middle managers will also see increases of 2% to 6%. The new agreements last until July 2023. The city is still in negotiations with the Capitola Police Officers Association and the Police Captains’ Association.

New public events scheduled

Capitola plans to resume several public events following the end of the state’s mask tenure and the ban on public gatherings on June 15. The town will resume the Twilight concerts on Wednesday evenings and a monthly art and music Sunday at the beach.

The Art and Wine Festival, usually the biggest event in the city of Capitola, is scheduled for September 9-11. Attendance regularly exceeds 25,000, which would classify the festival as an unauthorized “mega-event” under current pandemic regulations. City staff plan to work with the festival to comply with state laws. Other major events to come include the Capitola Beach Festival on September 25-26 and the Monte Foundation Fireworks Festival on October 10.

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Jesse Kathan is a Sacramento-based environmental journalist and a recent graduate of UC Santa Cruz’s Science Communication program. Kathan has contributed to Mercury News, Monterey County Weekly and KSQD-FM