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Outdoor permit approved

Speakers love, hate idea of park seating
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A business owner’s permit for outdoor seating has been continued for 60 days. July 8 the city granted Alexandra Hastings-Carnahan, owner of Tsuda’s Old Town Eatery, a temporary 30-day permit to use Herschel Young Park for non-exclusive outdoor dining. Tsuda’s is located next to the park. The permit expired Monday and was brought before City Council for review. In a 4-1 vote at Monday night’s meeting, council members decided to continue the permit for another 60 days and then bring it back before the Council for additional review. Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby voted against the permit continuance. Several conditions exist under the permit including reserved seating is not permitted because it is non-exclusive use, signage must let the public know that the park is open to public use, no alcohol is allowed, the permit only covers chairs, tables and lighting and entertainment may be permitted after approval. Kirby said he didn’t understand the need for a permit, because it doesn’t change who can frequent the park. “Currently the use of the park is open to anyone,” Kirby said. “If we were to approve this, that wouldn’t change.” City Attorney Michael Colantuono said he recommends a permit always be issued when a person has private property in a public area, as with Hastings-Carnahan’s tables and chairs. Hastings-Carnahan said Monday night she had no intention of trying to create a public right-of-way for her customers, but was hoping to give anyone passing through Old Town a “pleasant place to enjoy.” The City Council chambers were more crowded than usual, and the opinion about the eatery was slightly more in favor of not continuing the permit. Colfax resident Richard Yue, who said he was speaking on behalf of his mother, who lives next to the park, said more people would be attracted to the park, which is a concern. “The park has taken on more of a restaurant/café look,” Yue said. “One of (my mother’s) major concerns is the foot traffic that goes through her driveway and goes through the rear of that property.” Auburn resident Debra Oldziewski said she thinks the permit is a bad idea, because those visiting Auburn might not even realize the property is a public park. “I think it’s risky business taking that away from the people,” Oldziewski said. Gary Moffat, owner of Carpe Vino in Old Town, said a park paid for with taxpayer money shouldn’t be used by a private business. Moffat said he believes the park is already overcrowded. “In Herschel Young Park we now have seating for at least 35 people, combining the applicant’s tables and those fixed tables previously installed by the city,” Moffat said. “With this magnitude of seating, tiny Herschel Young Park is clearly no longer a park - it is now a restaurant.” Auburn resident Pat Brown said she thinks the permit should be allowed to continue, because it is having a positive impact on the park. “I really think you need to consider having the park and the restaurant, because I think it enlivens Old Town,” Brown said. “I think the park is great right now. It’s not dirty, and it’s happy and there are people there, and that is what is important.” Kathleen Harris, an Auburn business owner, said she thinks the outdoor seating is a great addition to the park as long as proper signage about public access is maintained. “There wasn’t much life in that park before … and it’s wonderful to see people out and about,” Harris said. Councilman Kevin Hanley made a motion to approve the permit, but suggested two signs be erected stating “Herschel Young Park open to the public” and “patio dining optional.” Hanley also said the city should work with Hastings-Carnahan to develop a cost-sharing responsibility for the trash service in the park. Hanley also added a condition stating that Hastings-Carnahan must work with city staff to make sure public use of the park is not discouraged. With the requirement for the permit to come back for review in 60 days, all council members approved the motion except for Kirby. In other business City Council: · Approved through a unanimous vote the Mercy Auburn Senior Apartment project on Sacramento Street. · Approved Bernie Schroeder, Public Works Department director, to execute a consultant agreement with Giuliani & Kull, Inc. for construction related services for the Falcons Point Sewer Pump Station in an amount not to exceed $14,350. · Approved an ordinance for outdoor seating in the public right-of-way, or sidewalks, of Auburn. For more information on the City Council meeting see Wednesday’s Auburn Journal. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com