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Carlsbad Suspends Fees For Outdoor Permits During COVID-19 Pandemic

Carlsbad City Hall, Aug. 25, 2015.

Photo by Alison St John

Above: Carlsbad City Hall, Aug. 25, 2015.

The city of Carlsbad announced Thursday it was temporarily suspending its collection fees for sidewalk cafes, outdoor displays and curbside cafe permits to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This suspension of permit fees also means reimbursement of around $8,000 to businesses that paid for these types of permits since March 1 of this year. Fee reimbursement and the revenue offset from the suspension of fee collection will be funded from the Economic Recovery and Revitalization Initiative funds. Of those funds, $175,000 remains for contingency or future city council actions.

When the pandemic's public health orders required the closure of indoor operations, Carlsbad relaxed development standards to allow businesses to use these permits to quickly activate outdoor spaces on public sidewalks. Some businesses were also granted no-cost permits allowing them to use private property such as their parking lots, to add to their existing outdoor areas.

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On July 28, the City Council also relaxed standards for curbside cafes, allowing restaurants to use up to four street parking stalls to expand outdoor dining.

The permits normally cost a one-time payment of $381 and $1,200 per parking stall per year. These fees are now temporarily suspended until February 28, 2021, or for the duration of the local COVID-19 pandemic emergency, whichever is later.

More than 70 businesses have been permitted, including restaurants, fitness classes, hair and nail salons, spas and churches, allowing them to temporarily move their operations outdoors onto private property, public sidewalks and on-street public parking spaces so that they can comply with public health guidelines.

According to a statement from the city, even with the county now allowing indoor dining, retail shopping or fitness classes, capacity has been reduced by 50% to 90%, depending on the type of business. Outdoor operations are permitted through the duration of the health emergency.

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