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Restaurant seating in Old Town park will continue

No opponents spoke at meeting
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn Old Town restaurant will keep its outdoor seating. The Auburn City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give Alexandra Hastings-Carnahan, owner of Tsuda’s Old Town Eatery, a permanent encroachment permit to have non-exclusive outdoor seating in Herschel Young Park. The park is next to the restaurant on Sacramento Street. On July 8 the city granted Hastings-Carnahan a 30-day permit for use of the park. In a 4-1 vote Aug. 9, the Council continued the permit for 60 days and asked that city staff bring the issue back for further consideration. All Council members voted Monday to continue the permit, except for Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby, who was absent. Kirby voted no during the Aug. 9 decision. Hastings-Carnahan is keeping tables and chairs in the park, but no napkins, candles or place settings. When customers request outdoor seating, her staff directs them to the park and takes their orders there, but anyone from the public can use the park and Tsuda’s tables. Park patrons do not have to order from the restaurant. Councilman Keith Nesbitt asked Associate Planner Lance Lowe if anyone had made any complaints to the city about the outdoor dining since the last City Council decision. “No, sir, it’s been quiet,” Lowe said. Wilfred Wong, Auburn Community Development director, said although Hastings-Carnahan is only using the outdoor seating Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, city staff would have no objection to her using it all day every day, because of the positive operation of the business in the park. Mayor Bridget Powers expressed concern about other groups wanting to hold events in the park, and what kind of notice Hastings-Carnahan would have. Wong said although Hastings-Carnahan would not be able to veto any other events, because it is a public park, the city would try to keep her informed of upcoming rentals of the area. “If we get a proposal, we will do our best to notify her,” Wong said. “The intent was it’s (still) a public park.” Nesbitt asked about the restaurant possibly serving alcohol in the park in the future. Lowe said the City Council would have to approve a separate encroachment permit for that, followed by approval from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Fencing would also be required to close off a portion of the park for those drinking alcohol. Lowe said this would create a unique situation, because the park is supposed to be completely open to the public. “At this point in time we really haven’t considered (Tsuda’s staff serving alcohol in the park), but it would present an interesting challenge,” he said. At the Aug. 9 meeting, several business owners and residents spoke against and shared concerns about the use of the park, but no one spoke in opposition to the outdoor seating Monday, and there were several comments in favor of it. Councilman Mike Holmes said he had only received one phone call that appeared to be against the outdoor seating. Hastings-Carnahan said she thinks the seating not only allows people to enjoy the outdoors, but also gives them a chance to look at the historic buildings in the area. “Let’s just let this space provide to the public a nice area where they can sit and enjoy the outside,” she said. “It’s giving you an opportunity to enjoy our buildings really intimately.” The encroachment permit comes with 13 conditions including Hastings-Carnahan working with the city to put up signs that read “Herschel Young Park – Open to the public.” In other business the City Council: · Approved the city participation agreement between the city of Auburn and AEG Cycling for the Amgen Tour of California Host City Stage 3 start on May 17, 2011. · Authorized Wong to sign the Green Communities Participation Agreement with the Sierra Business Council on behalf of the city. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com