After taking action in 2020 to allow local businesses impacted by COVID-19 to expand outdoor operations, the Grover Beach City Council on Monday authorized the permanent use of these outdoor spaces by businesses on private parking lots and public sidewalks along with a continuation of temporary parklets through June 2022. The Council also approved the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to provide matching grants of up to $5,000 to businesses for decorative improvements to create attractive and safe outdoor spaces. The use of outdoor spaces is consistent with the goals outlined in the City’s Land Use Element and West Grand Avenue Master Plan as a way of creating a more vibrant downtown atmosphere and boosting business exposure.
“We remain committed to supporting our local businesses in not just surviving COVID-19, but adapting and thriving into the future,” said Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee. “Our community is very supportive of our Grover Beach businesses, and through our initiatives like creative use of outdoor areas along with the small business microgrants and the Buy Local program, the City will continue to show this support to help create a stronger and more vibrant economy.”
The City issued 22 Temporary Use Permits for outdoor business use in 2020 with the most common location being onsite private parking lots which are eligible for permanent conversion if minimum parking requirements are met. In 2018, the City modified its parking requirements to reduce minimum standards for businesses which enables businesses to more easily meet these requirements. The City may consider exemptions to the minimum requirements in cases where the reduction in parking capacity to accommodate outdoor dining or other business use will not negatively affect other surrounding businesses. In addition to the onsite parking lots, the Council authorized continued use of outdoor dining on public sidewalks along West Grand Avenue provided that a four-foot or greater area is preserved for public access.
As part of this agenda item, the Council also authorized the continued placement of two temporary parklets on West Grand Avenue (located near 10th Street and 2nd Street) used by adjacent restaurants through June 2022 given the need for these spaces as businesses continue to recover from COVID restrictions. Parklets have also been established by other communities as ways for businesses to continue operating during COVID and opportunities to increase outdoor business activity. During this timeframe, staff will assess the potential long-term use of these spaces and bring information to the Council for review and policy direction.
Consistent with existing policy such as the West Grand Avenue Master Plan, the Council indicated that extension of outdoor business uses provides an opportunity to install new features such as decks, decorative pavement treatments, decorative barriers and lighting. While costs associated with such improvements are typically borne by businesses, the Council approved an expansion of the City’s matching grant program of up to $5,000 to help businesses create attractive and safe outdoor spaces. Funding for these grants will come from the City’s allocation of one-time ARPA funds with more information about this program released in June.
“We appreciate everything the City of Grover Beach is doing to support their local businesses,” said President/CEO Jocelyn Brennan of the South County Chambers of Commerce. “Their decision to continue outdoor dining spaces on sidewalks, parking lots, and parklets will be a great benefit to restaurants and other businesses who are taking advantage of this extra space. And I think residents and visitors appreciate the outdoor dining possibilities.”