FEBRUARY 8, 2021

The following are some of the thoughts and suggestions collected regarding the future of Carmel’s coronavirus pandemic street dining program. This is a partial list. The comments have been edited for brevity.

The overall theme is that the parklet program should end when restaurant and wine tasting bars are able to safely and legally return to indoor operations.


Whereas, restaurants and wine bars (referred to as “wine tasting rooms”) are private commercial enterprises,

Whereas, sidewalks and street parking is legally public right-of-way,

Whereas, the unusual nature of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in emergency suspension of planning and building department permitting and inspection processes and health department guidance,

Whereas, the City of Carmel’s emergency response to the Statewide restrictions allowed restaurants and wine bars to temporaily expand their dining operations onto the sidewalk and into public parking spaces,

Whereas, restaurants and wine bars erected structures, commonly referred to as parklets, to simulate dining and tasting rooms,

Whereas, street side dining encroaches on the sidewalk used by the general public,

Whereas, persons using the sidewalk are often unable to pass outside the six foot required physical distance recommended by the CDC,

Whereas, the City of Carmel has many different commercial, private, and public interests which may not benefit from expansion on the restaurant and wine bar businesses,

Whereas, allowing private operations to encroach into the public right-of-way for commercial use normally requires a formal process which includes the involvement of rigorous public input and government oversight,

Whereas, the City of Carmel’s response to the Statewide restrictions suspended the normal permitting and inspection process,

Whereas, the City of Carmel has mechanisms in place that can be used in the event private commercial enterprises desire to expand onto public property,

Therefore, the City of Carmel can refer to the pre-pandemic process for expanding commercial operations in public space.


Whereas, some restaurants invested in semi-permanent parklet structures at substantial costs,

Whereas, the level of investment was at the discretion of the business owner and not required nor recommended by the City of Carmel,

Whereas, estimates suggest that the coronavirus pandemic may be under control enough to allow indoor dining and wine tasting to resume this year,

Therefore, restaurants and wine bars should not invest beyond what may be recouped in the event restrictions are lifted sooner than later.

At that time, restaurants and wine bars should remove the temporary parklet structures and return the parking space to the public.


Whereas, some restaurants and wine bars have erected structures in the parking spaces near their buildings which are currently not in use,

Therefore, unused parklets should be removed and the parking space returned to the public immediately.


Whereas, the City of Carmel offers 13 street vending permits for sale of permitted products including food,

Whereas, some local restaurant owners obtained street vending permits,

Whereas, no street vending permit holder has utilized the street vending opportunity during any of the take-out or delivery-only periods while under statewide stay-at-home orders,

Therefore, unused street vendor permits should expire and be made available to future applicants.


Whereas, over 50 restaurants operate in the downtown commercial district,

Whereas, 29 restaurants offered permitted outdoor dining pre-pandemic,

Therefore, restaurants which made investments in permitted outdoor dining prior to the pandemic should be able to benefit as conditions have changed,

Therefore, restaurants and wine bars without permitted outdoor seating may apply for a variance and make the necessary investments in the future if they desire to compete.


Whereas, Carmel does not have the local population density to support over the over 50 restaurants downtown for customers or workforce,

Whereas, Carmel restaurants rely predominantly on tourist visits and transient workers,

Whereas, Carmel Area Water District reports SARS-CoV-2 traces typically spike in waste water samples following popular tourist dates,

Whereas, positive COVID test results are recorded in the infected person’s home zip code,

Whereas, transient persons visiting or working in Carmel who contract and/or spread the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will not be recorded in 93921 zip code,

Whereas, positive cases of COVID-19 have occurred in Carmel’s downtown commercial district,

Whereas, Carmel does not provide a formal recording and publishing protocol for tracing COVID-19 cases,

Therefore, the transient and local population is unable to gage the severity of the situation in Carmel.

Therefore, the City of Carmel should consider using a process similar to the CAL-OSHA workplace tracing system required by all California businesses.


Whereas, the California Department of Public Health is requiring persons to wear a mask at all times in public,

Whereas, the California Department of Public Health is requiring persons to maintain six feet physical distance between other persons not from the same household,

Whereas, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is spread by droplets expelled when sneezing or coughing,

Whereas, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is spread by hanging aerosols exhaled by an infected person when talking, laughing, and exhaling,

Whereas, the dispersion of contaminated droplets and aerosols increases when face masks are not used,

Whereas, consuming the restaurant or wine bar product (eating and drinking) requires the removal of face masks,

Whereas, SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is also spread by touching contaminated surfaces followed by touching eyes, nose, or mouth,

Whereas, customers and staff are in contact with many components in the restaurant or wine bar while dining, drinking, or working, including tableware, glassware, napkins, chairs, railings, handles, menus, payment processing materials, etc.,

Whereas, restaurants and wine bars provide restrooms for their customers and staff from different households which increase the opportunity to spread SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus,

Whereas, the CDC suggests exposure to SARS-CoV-2 increases over time,

Whereas, staying indoors or outdoors at a restaurant or wine bar typically extends past maximum dwell time recommended by the CDC, thus increasing the chance of infection,

Whereas, regardless of indoors or outdoors, restaurants and wine bars commonly seat customers from different households within the prohibited six foot perimeter,

Therefore, restaurants and winebars in their current format are not safe during a contagious event such as the coronavirus pandemic.