The effort to bring outdoor dining to San Mateo while COVID-19 restrictions are in effect is moving forward, and participating restaurants will likely be allowed to serve alcohol in addition to food.

That’s according to City Manager Drew Corbett who, at a meeting Monday, suggested restaurateurs prefer outdoor dining be on sidewalks rather than in the street as was previously proposed. A recent survey on the matter went out to 200 restaurants and thus far has seen a 20% response rate.

“Respondents favored the use of sidewalks and parking spaces for outside dining. The full road closures created equity and logistical concerns,” Corbett said, and after the meeting added factors including access for deliveries and takeout orders are yet to be resolved. A task force is meeting this week to determine the best way to proceed. Corbett also noted outdoor dining will not commence until state and county health officials allow for dining at restaurants. 

“We’re committed to helping restaurants in a manner that will be safe for everyone, including patrons, employees and passersby,” Corbett said. “We’ll also be carefully reviewing any guidance public health experts provide for possible outdoor dining.”

Corbett, at a meeting June 1, will propose a municipal code amendment to allow for alcohol sales with the outdoor dining permit and he’s also proposing temporarily waiving the $347 permit fee for obtaining the permit. Councilmembers during the Monday meeting suggested they would sign off on those proposals.

As a result of the latest health order, which lifted certain restrictions in the county, Corbett during the meeting announced the reopening of certain city facilities and services this week.

Parks and Recreation plans to open 10 tennis courts at Beresford and Central parks sometime this week, though reservations will be required.

Summer camp registration is now available to not only essential workers, but also the general public, and the plan is to use nine park locations for camps this year. But there are restrictions: There must be a stable group of 12 or fewer children — kids can’t move in and out of groups — and there will be no weekly signups.

Officials are still assessing what aquatic programs will be offered, if any, this summer, a limited opening of the Japanese Garden is happening “soon” and the city-owned Poplar Creek golf course is now accepting reservations for those who reside outside of San Mateo County, Corbett said.

The library is preparing for curbside service for checking out books and other materials starting early June, and its summer learning programs will all be online this year.

City Hall is still slated for a June 1 opening, but much of the staff will continue working from home, Corbett said.

He also said the city is collaborating with neighboring school districts on the “make some noise for the class of 2020” campaign by handling marketing and promotion. On June 12 from 7 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., residents are encouraged to go outside their homes and make noise in celebration of local middle and high school graduates.

Finally, Corbett suggested changes may soon be coming to the safe streets program in response to concerns that cars are not being limited enough. The matter will be discussed in further detail at the next council meeting.

In other business, the council agreed to extend the city’s moratorium on evictions of commercial tenants to June 30. The new rules allow tenants 12 months to pay the deferred rent, but they also must pay at least 50% of the deferred rent during that time.

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