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Salinas City Council approves Downtown Outdoor Dining Forgivable Program

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Council unanimously approved the Downton Outdoor Dining Forgivable Program.

According to a city staff report, the City has allowed outdoor dining in the public right of way through the Sidewalk Café Encroachment Program. In 2016, a SCEP incentive program was the Downtown area was established to encourage outdoor dining, and the $300 permit for up to business was waived. But only two businesses participated in the program.

However, when the pandemic happened, businesses expanded to outdoor dining.

Maribel Monjarez said many of her customers enjoy the outdoor patio.

"With the pandemic," said Monjarez, "the new style of life we have to live in and kind of get used to, a lot of them we're looking for places to dine outside."

The Downton Outdoor Dining Forgivable Program costs $150,000 and will come from the City's Economic Development Element Implementation Project. The program will give downtown restaurants an interest-free, one-time forgivable loan of up $10,000.

The Downtown Outdoor Dining Forgivable Loan Program can bring some extra help.

"Downtown dining establishments, bars, restaurants, pubs, can apply for up to 10,000," said Lisa Brinton, the Assistant Director Of Community Development. "To pay for furniture, fencing, and even outdoor heaters to allow them to expand their businesses outside."

Monjarez said if approved, she would use that money to upgrade her patio, like buying new furniture, to attract new customers to her business.

Some restaurants told KION they would like to see more outdoor dining options in the Downtown Salinas area.

"I think it will bring a better vibe to downtown," said Monjarez. "More families and locals would want to stay and enjoy it."

Brinton adds restaurants showed a lot of interest in the temporary permit program during Covid and are now working to make it more permanent.
The City hopes to get the applications out between September and October this year.

The City is appropriating $150,000 from the City's Capital Improvement Program.

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Ana Torrea

Weekend Anchor/Reporter for KION News Channel 5/46


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