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The Salida City Council has unanimously voted during a special meeting on Tuesday afternoon, May 26, to pass resolution 2020-20. It amends the city’s Declaration of Local State of Emergency to allow public streets and portions of public sidewalks to be partially closed to provide more space for restaurants and businesses to maintain social distancing regulations. Those public health regulations are in place due to the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Screenshot taken of Salida City Council agenda item, discussing creating downtown dining space to comply with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

This resolution, say city council members, will not only benefit restaurants but also small retail businesses seeking additional merchandising space. Ventilation is a problem within buildings and large crowds. Closing off parts of the streets for businesses will help solve this ventilation issue while also keeping local businesses and restaurants open.

The resolution will also benefit businesses that are not on F Street by allowing them to expand into their parking lots (if they have them) to offer table service.

The primary proposed area to close spans the two blocks of F Street between Sackett and Second Street. First Street, which bisects the planned area, is State Highway 291 and must remain open to vehicles. When the concept was brought up to the Salida Business Alliance earlier in the week, all were in favor of the resolution, offering unanimous support.

Mayor P.T. Wood also mentioned “we had a really good conversation with the SBA about it last Thursday. They were all in favor. We’ve had a number of restaurants downtown reach out. I have not had anyone call and tell me that it was a bad idea.”  The Council heard comments that mid-block cross alleys are major thoroughfares for delivery trucks from UPS, FedEx, trash trucks, full semi trailers and bobtail trucks as well as private vehicles from abutting properties, especially during weekday hours.  In addition, the Fire Department expressed they need to ensure safe emergency access.  Barriers at the end of the alleys to F Street may be movable, but details remain to be worked out on these and other matters, as this is only a starting point.  Days of the week, duration and time of day were not specified in the resolution, giving the City Administration maximum flexibility to see what works.

Initially the plan is to block off the street with “Jersey barriers” to get started. The city is working on building flower boxes that would replace the Jersey barriers in a more aesthetically pleasing way to mark the dining areas. To read the resolution click here.

The recorded Special meeting will be posted to Salida City Council’s YouTube channel.