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Outdoor Dining Will Become Reality Throughout The Downtown

City Council approves the purchase of platforms, lowers the cost for restaurant owners.

Outdoor dining in downtown Martinez inched closer to reality Wednesday, as the City Council unanimously agreed to purchase and install wooden platforms for all the restaurants requesting them.

As with all things, though, there’s a catch.

Because the platforms take up as many as two parking spaces, the restaurant owner must pay a monthly fee of $60 to offset some of the lost revenue from the parking meter. In addition, the restaurant owner must pay a $1,200 “buy-in” fee to help offset the cost of the platforms, which cost about $5,000 each.

And it was that point Wednesday that generated nearly two hours of discussion among council members and the public.

“There should be some skin the game in terms of investing in these things,” said councilman Mike Menesini. “Owners tend to take care of their property a little more than others.”

“Everyone will want something for free,” said downtown property owner and attorney Al Turnbaugh. “But private enterprise works this way – you spend money to make money. For every dollar the city puts into this, that’s a dollar we don’t have for something else.”

But Roxanne Cole, owner of Roxx on Main, argued that restaurant owners will have to pay to furnish the platforms, and maintain them.

“It’s for the betterment of the entire town, so I don’t understand the concept of this payment,” she said.

“Maintaining these places is a cost,” said vice mayor Mark Ross, noting that the city subsidizes the Willows Theater, the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Martinez. “Government provides the platform for businesses to thrive. There’s something more than just money going on here.”

“Mark once told me he was a social liberal and a fiscal conservative,” Menesini shot back. “We’re going to have to revise that. It wasn’t that long ago I was fighting to lower fees for the boys’ and girls’ swim team and baseball fields, and certain folks were saying ‘we have to cover those costs and we can’t lower those fees,’ so I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored.”

“I object to the city charging them (restaurant owners) anything. These restaurants bring in additional sales tax revenue to the city,” said Anne Mobley, owner of White Rabbit Boutique.

In the end, however, it was decided to reduce the “buy-in” fee from $2,400 to $1,200, and the monthly parking revenue off-set from $72 to $60. The city will begin purchasing the platforms and installing them later this year. The 500 block will have the original pockets removed sometime in October, said City Engineer Tim Tucker, and the street will be paved.

Patrick J. McNamara May 19, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I am glad these outdoor dining spaces are going to be happening, and I think the fees to the restaurants are reasonable and fair. At these rates they are heavily subsidized. When Bertola's went belly-up and the new owners of Creek Monkey Tap House stepped up and spent nearly half a million dollars to bring a good eatery with outdoor dining to the downtown, I didn't hear any of the main street restaurateurs rising up complaining that the city wasn't subsidizing Creek Monkey. Every business is faced with costs in order to be able to come down to work every day and open the doors. If in researching the wisdom and return on investment of outdoor dining, an eatery feels this modest outlay will not pay for itself, they need not pay it. Simple as that. But they will. Because it will. Big time.
Anne Mobley May 19, 2012 at 02:01 AM
We are not attorneys. We do spend money to make money but it is more difficult in Martinez to get an ROI. Why not invest in your own downtown and pay to beautify it? Look at what was spent on Marina Vista. And the Martinez sign not even placed where it was many years ago. Not a bright idea. Let's look at who has property oh Marina Vista. Why do I object to the charge to restaurants? Let me count the ways. City built a wall at the old Bertolas for Dunivan at the tune of over $475K of public funds; pays $3600/month rent to Dunivan/Bisio for the Willows Theatre; kicks hack sales tax to corporations; subsidizes rents to the sports facility and the arts association (not a bad thing there); forgives housing fees for a Planning Commissioner at $5K/unit; approves Berellessa Palms project on Dunivan land which will give no property taxes to the city for a low income project too large for Dunivan's small parcel of land that adjacent property owners were against. You do the rest of the research if you are interested. Bottom line is -- help your downtown restaurants bring people into town. They have invested in this community and helped many organizations with donations. Help them out for a change.
Paul L Wilson May 19, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Millions of dollars spent in specific plans, studies, workshops, consultants and bus trips to come up with a way to revitalize down town. I think we could come up with the money to fund this for free? Maybe we could hire another consultant or have a study done.
Chris Kapsalis May 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM
I have to admit I like these. However, charging the restraunts? They will generate more money for the city. So why? It is a wise investment for us to make. Also, pay us for the parking revinue we lost that would not be there if it wasn't for you? What?..
Lawrence Risner May 21, 2012 at 02:41 AM
This whole plan is ludicrous - to charge businesses for the beautification of Main street to make the town more attractive for business customers. First they talk about spending millions on a crappy marina then turn around and tear out the best piece of attractiveness in town which is the 500 block of Main street that has been there for 12 years trouble free only to replace it with some sort of wooden platforms. We need representation from individuals that have interest in Martinez as a quint town. No wonder Martinez is becoming a business "dead zone".

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