DUBLIN — In an effort to assist local businesses and service-oriented organizations affected by the pandemic, the planning commission has approved an extension of the city-issued Temporary Use Permit (TUP) program.
The planning commission agreed unanimously last month to grant the city manager the authority to waive certain zoning ordinance requirements to facilitate business operations affected by COVID-19. The amendment primarily includes the extension of time limits for temporary items, including tents or other outdoor amenities.
“I think the benefit (to this) is that businesses are able to provide the services or the retail opportunity to the community despite restrictions and concerns people continue to have regarding social distancing and COVID as well,” said Kristie Wheeler, assistant community development director. “There are still places where we still need to provide some flexibility.”
In August 2020, the city council approved an amendment to the ordinance to extend the use of outdoor seating for eating and drinking establishments to aid in their economic recovery due to COVID-19. This included 20 permits for commercial and service-oriented businesses and 42 permits to allow temporary outdoor seating for eating and drinking establishments. While efforts taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including vaccinations, have been effective, local health officials have said the risk to public health remains. City staff have been monitoring the situation and looking for ways to aid local businesses in economic recovery and mitigate the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
Based upon the success of the COVID-19 Relief TUP program, which expired in June, staff recommended an extension to the TUP program through September 2022 — or until the current federal, state or county health orders are revoked. The TUP extension is also exempt from the requirements of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), because it would involve negligible or no expansion of use.
“I think it’s great the city is thinking ahead,” said Commissioner Stephen Wright. “But I think if more of our community wore masks and got vaccinated, we might not be in this situation. It really impacts the economic well-being of our city in terms of small businesses, not only the owners but those who work there.”
Wheeler said that some businesses, such as gyms and churches, have expressed interest in maintaining outdoor activity.
“And that was the reason for bringing this (extension amendment) forward,” Wheeler continued.
The passage of the amendment came with a caveat that the maintenance of outdoor items must continue to be monitored.
“The city has approached those businesses and asked them if they can tidy things up a little bit and make sure they don’t start to look a little dilapidated,” added Wheeler. “The winds come up and (when) the tents pop up, they get a little tattered … we are paying attention and are working with the businesses.”
For more information, visit www.dublin.ca.gov.