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Dining proposal rejected

ENCINITAS — The City Council rejected an outdoor dining proposal on Nov. 16 and directed the city’s planning and engineering department to make changes in the sidewalk café ordinance.
While the council disagreed on the details of proposal, it was unanimous in its support that downtown restaurants with outdoor tables must keep at least a 5-foot-wide pathway on city sidewalks open at all times to allow pedestrian access.
Last April, the council directed staff to draft a more cohesive policy and permitting process to allow outdoor dining. The council said it supported upholding an existing ban on businesses adding ironwork railings around downtown sidewalk eating areas. However, the members did not support a suggestion that downtown sidewalk tables be permanently fixed in place to prevent them from “creeping” into pedestrian corridors.
City staff suggested ways to improve pedestrian access along the downtown Coast Hwy. 101 corridor that included requiring restaurants to place tables and chairs next to their buildings rather than closer to the street. The city has faced complaints from wheelchair users about the lack of open sidewalk space as more restaurants have moved their diners outside. The city also settled a lawsuit over the issue recently.
The council was unanimous in its support for maintaining a 5-foot pedestrian pathway requirement through outdoor dining areas along the sidewalks of downtown Coast Hwy.
The disagreement came when permitting fees were discussed. So far, 17 downtown restaurants have been granted “encroachment permits,” according to staff reports. The city charges a one-time fee of $290 for permits to use public sidewalk pro