The city of Cannon Beach is working on ways to help ease businesses into the re-opening phase.
City Manager Bruce St. Denis said that over the Memorial Day weekend, there was “an uptick” in consumer traffic, but it was less than “normal.”
St. Denis said the city manager has the authority under the emergency declaration to temporarily modify the Cannon Beach Municipal Code to allow some dining tables in restaurant courtyards and parking lots to facilitate the social distancing requirements.
The city council met Wednesday to discuss whether to partially close Hemlock Street to traffic to provide space to facilitate social distancing for shoppers. “Council (would have the authority) to direct staff to move forward with this,” he said.
“The City of Cannon Beach recognizes this unique and unprecedented environment which the COVID pandemic and the economic crisis brings to our coastal community,” as stated in the city’s memo regarding the restaurant table location expansion. “The City would like to work with our local businesses to Re-Open our community as safely and as wisely as possible, while aware that the new social distancing provisions and what is being recommended by our health professionals may require provisional measures to allow for a smoother transition into a more normal operational environment. Please keep in mind these measures are temporary and yet, if we respect the Cannon Beach aesthetic, some of these measures could be incorporated into future provisions.”
The code modification will allow “off-street parking areas, ADA accessible pedestrian courtyard areas, provided by a business, and any other area site approved by the Community Development Director, to be converted to service or seating areas in proportion to that business’ approved seating capacity,” the memo states.
“[Example: if the restaurant during normal operations has 20 indoor tables, and the COVID pandemic social distancing requirements force the restaurant to eliminate 8 of those indoor tables, they will be permitted to have up to 8 socially-distanced tables in their exterior courtyard, parking area, or other approved space, as long as they abide by ADA, fire-safety requirements and allow for 42” passage for all pedestrian throughfares.]”
St. Denis said the modification is meant to “help restaurants work back to their normal capacity, allowing them to put seating outside.”
The city staff report on the Hemlock Street proposal states: “The restrictions on social distancing are difficult-to-impossible to accomplish on our narrow sidewalks.
“Social distancing requirements will also hinder the experience/operations of many of our small shops.
“And because the number of browsers in each establishment will be limited, so will the sales.
“This proposal addresses the public social distancing aspect of the problem by substantially increasing the pedestrian area in the downtown area which will allow more space in between each individual/party.”
The proposal would “close down portions of Hemlock Street to vehicles,” the staff report states.
For more detail, see the graphic.