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Since the outdoor dining structures have been taken down along Avenida Del Mar, dozens of parking spaces have opened up. This is good for the smaller retailers who lost parking during the day when we are open.

While, as a small retailer, I am a proponent of outdoor dining, there were a number of restaurants who promised to abide by the city’s regulations to be open six days a week, eight hours a day, but did not, and these parking spaces were blocked during the day without dining customers, thus affecting all business owners.

What that means for smaller retailers is that our customers found it difficult to park.

So where did shoppers park? They parked in the adjacent residential areas, which are already heavily impacted. When City Council votes to eliminate the few parking spaces we have, their decisions have consequences.

If and when outdoor dining comes back to Avenida Del Mar, and I hope it does, there are a few suggestions for our city leaders.

1.    Enforce the regulation that restaurants must be open six days a week, eight hours a day, for the privilege of having outdoor street dining.

2.    Do not take up as many parking spaces per restaurant.

3.    Have some quality standards in design.

4.    Do not block storefronts with high structures.

5.    Do not permit restaurants that have outdoor dining in back of their restaurants to also have street outdoor dining.

All of us wish Avenida Del Mar to be successful for all businesses, which includes restaurant outdoor dining, but let’s be fair to all the business owners, not just a few, and have fewer parking spaces eliminated. The downtown needs parking in order to survive and prosper.

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