Downtown Outdoor Dining Pilot


View Program Description on City website

in 2014 the City Council unanimously approved the establishment and appropriation of the Santa Cruz Avenue Enhanced On-Street Seating Pilot Program, as a tool for increasing Downtown vibrancy and providing the outdoor seating many of our downtown restaurants and diners desire.

The goal of the pilot program was to gauge the interest in outdoor seating and enhanced dining opportunities. Overall, feedback from Left Bank and the community is that the pilot program has enlivened the retail experience on that section of Santa Cruz Avenue and enhanced business. According to Left Bank’s manager, the outdoor seating area is regularly occupied, even in adverse weather conditions.

Having seen the interest the pilot program has generated, the logical progression is to affirm the continuance of Left Bank’s participation, identify additional opportunity sites and establish more semi-permanent outdoor seating areas, with one possible end goal being permanent sidewalk expansion that would incorporate the areas that have the expanded seating.

Criteria for site selections would be (1) that the installation have a de minimis (very little) effect on parking (2) that the site would provide protection from vehicular traffic, and (3) that partnering business(es) obtain the necessary outdoor seating permits.


 Status

  • Now called Santa Cruz Street Café program
  • Two base designs were developed to match the parking configurations Downtown: one for parallel parking spaces and one for angled parking spaces.

  • Features of the base model include an elevated concrete platform that has a level surface, a perimeter barrier of concrete planter boxes, safety railings and disabled accessibility. Each business will be given the opportunity to choose how its Street Café looks through the addition of custom features such as wood panels, painted color, plants, lighting and furniture. As Council previously decided, the cost for any custom features beyond the base design will be borne solely by the business.

  • A program cost for businesses exceeding $15,000 would limit participation so staff recommends the City increase its contribution.

  • The current opportunity sites include the Left Bank, LB Steak, Galata Bistro, Angelo Mios, Madamoiselle Colette, Bistro Vida and Harvest.
  • The property owner where The Refuge is located does not want outside street seating.

 Staff Recommendations (May 2016)

Staff recommended and  the City Council approved the design for the Santa Cruz Street Café program took the following actions:

  • Increased the planned Downtown Streetscape budget by $335,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2016-2017 as part of the budget adoption process;
  • Authorized the City Manager to award construction contracts for each Street Café, up to the budgeted amount;
  • Authorized the City Manager to enter into license and funding agreements between the City and participating merchants; and
  • Agreed to increase to the maximum City share of the base design by $10,000 for each Street Café.
  • Directed staff to take code enforcement action to remove unpermitted outdoor seating.

 Brief History (2008 – Today)

 July 2008 – the Menlo Park City Council unanimously accepted the El Camino Real / Downtown Vision Plan. “This document  reflects the vision of the Menlo Park community for its Downtown and the El Camino Real corridor and was developed through intensive outreach and discussion. The Vision Plan is intended to serve as a starting point for further discussion and community planning. A vision goal: “Downtown Vibrancy: Expand shopping, dining and neighborhood services to ensure a vibrant downtown.”

November 2012 – Menlo Park publishes the Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan

November 2013 – Menlo Park approves the Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan

May 2014 –  City Council unanimously approved the establishment and appropriation of the Santa Cruz Avenue Enhanced On-Street Seating Pilot Program, as a tool for increasing Downtown vibrancy and providing the outdoor seating many of our downtown restaurants and diners desire. The Left Bank is the initial participant.

January 2015  – the City Council approved the continuation of this program. Staff Report

May 2016  the City Council approved enhancements to this pilot program including a large increase in city funding. – Staff Report

August 2016 – the construction of street dining areas for the seven approved businesses will start in late September and last roughly 3 weeks. Staff Report.


Primary Concern

Although named the Street Cafe program only one  cafe  – Mademoiselle Colette’s is participating. The City needs a cafe like Cafe Borrone downtown, that attracts customers throughout the day and evening.

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