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Ripon decision to relax sidewalk dining rules helps restaurants
pizza plus
The City of Ripon relaxed the outdoor dining ordinances to allow businesses such as Pizza Plus to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Ripon relaxed some of its ordinances amid the COVID-19 pandemic to better serve local businesses.

Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart reviewed just that at Tuesday’s Ripon City Council on Tuesday.

On a side note, he reported that San Joaquin Valley is still in the COVID Purple Tier, meaning “no indoor dining or any of that stuff.”

Zuidervaart pointed out the section in the municipal code on sidewalk dining – outdoor tables and chairs for eateries did require a yearly permit fee – was pulled back and even relaxed.

The width of the outdoor dining area, which had been three feet in length, was also relaxed during this time.

With approval from Alcohol Beverage Control, Ripon bars were given to greenlight to serve outdoors. “That’s typically not allowed here under our code,” he said.

Pizza Plus and The Wine Vault are among the businesses benefitting from some of the temporary changes.

“We did shrink the pathway (from five feet, per code) for accessibility to the ADA-required four feet,” Zuidervaart said.

Pizza Plus was able to put tables and chairs on the sidewalk, maintaining a four-foot pathway while allowing patrons to enjoy beer with their pizza outdoors – that, too, was given the OK by ABC.

The outdoor dining permit within the public right of way – specifically, the spaces in the parking lot up front, according to Zuidervaart – was also waived. During pre-COVID times, Ripon allowed this setting only from April to October.

“This has been allowed to be there the whole time (of the pandemic). At some point, we’ll have to go back to the regular ordinance,” he said.

The Wine Vault and A Matter of Taste share this type of space. Both businesses, for now, are allowed to keep tables and chairs outdoors after business hours inside the area.

“Chairs and tables are supposed to be removed at night but not under the relaxed ordinance,” Zuidervaart said.

In addition, the City relaxed the setup on large tents at places such as Fina and several restaurants near Save Mart once needed a minor site review by the City. “That’s been relaxed – we just check to see if the tents are (properly) anchored,” said Zuidervaart, who added that the City has been allowing on-street parking pick-up areas while loosening up the sign ordinance.

“We’ve relaxed these ordinances to assist our businesses. We’ll come back to revisit this (after COVID),” Zuidervaart said.