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Morro Bay votes to help downtown businesses 

Restaurants are barely surviving in Morro Bay, Mayor John Headding said during the June 9 City Council meeting.

"This is an economic crisis for businesses. The majority that I've talked to were down more than 60 percent with regard to revenues, compared to the same time last year, and need to get up and running in order to continue to do business," said Headding, who recently spoke with several downtown area restaurant owners.

STAYING ALIVE Morro Bay will allow businesses to place seating on sidewalks and the public right of way for their customers. - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE CITY OF MORRO BAY
  • Image Courtesy Of The City Of Morro Bay
  • STAYING ALIVE Morro Bay will allow businesses to place seating on sidewalks and the public right of way for their customers.

Morro Bay city staff and the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce say businesses are suffering as a direct result of the public health crisis. To give those businesses an opportunity to expand the services that they can provide, the City Council voted on June 9 to change some of the city's rules.

The council approved an amendment to its blanket encroachment permit that would allow planters, plants, benches, tables, and chairs on the sidewalk and in the public right of way. It extends the program to all four commercial districts, includes merchandise sales, and ensures tables and seating maintain 6 feet of social distancing. A temporary use permit the council approved will allow owners to use outdoor areas on private property for seating and sale of merchandise and waives the permit fee for six months.

Council members also approved amendments to existing sidewalk vending permit requirements that include sidewalk vendors and roaming sidewalk vendors—vendors that move from place to place and stop only to complete a transaction.

Community Development Director Scot Graham said there hasn't been an increase of inquiries for street vending, but given the circumstances created by the public health crisis, this could be an opportunity for businesses.

Limited vendors will be allowed on or adjacent to the Embarcadero, Harborwalk, Coleman Drive, and Rock parking lot. Sidewalk vendors are required to obtain a city-issued sidewalk vendor permit, city-issued business tax certificate, a California seller's permit, and a county Health Department permit.

City staff is bringing forward an amendment to the master fee schedule at the June 23 council meeting to add a $325 fee for a sidewalk vendor permit. Δ

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