San Carlos City Council on Monday approved amendments to the city’s outdoor dining program that will open up some parking stalls on the 600 block of Laurel Street to support retail businesses that haven’t benefited from the pandemic-era program, and will reduce parklet sizes to accommodate the return of the San Carlos Farmers’ Market.
The amendments, set to take effect Aug. 8, do not impact the outdoor dining program on the 700 block of Laurel Street, the city said.
The changes — seen as a compromise in the ongoing debate over whether to make the popular outdoor dining program a permanent fixture — require that parklets on the 600 block of Laurel Street remain within the boundaries of each business and also mandate that businesses on the block that operate a parklet remain open at least five days a week for lunch and dinner.
Reducing the size of the parklets aims to increase parking options to support retail businesses that have expressed concerns over parking access, including for customers who are seniors or disabled, and also accommodates the return of the Farmers Market to downtown, the city said. Since the launch of the Laurel Street outdoor dining program in summer 2020, which provided an economic boost for restaurants hampered by indoor dining restrictions, the Farmers’ Market relocated to the Industrial Arts District, where it remains and is struggling financially. In 2019 when market was downtown, it had 56 vendors and made $40,000 in annual income. Currently, the market is down to 16 vendors and is losing $10,000 annually, according to Chamber San Mateo County.
The City Council recently extended the Laurel Street outdoor dining program until September 2022.