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Ripon keeps sidewalk dining but moves to end it in right of way
sidewalk deck
Ripon businesses taking the on-street / sidewalk dining survey, based on the early returns, favored the semi-permanent decks on the street parking stalls for downtown restaurants.

The Ripon City Council recently approved an amendment to the “Emergency Services” chapter of the city ordinance.

Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart said at the Nov. 9 meeting that the emergency ordinance had temporary waivers of certain requirements of the Ripon Municipal Code that allowed those businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – under health orders from the state and San Joaquin County – to continue to operate.

“The amended ordinance includes language modifying the waiver provisions of not allowing the director to approve any waiver of suspension to the Ripon Municipal Code occurring within the public right-of-way,” Zuidervaart added.

The ordinance as-is will remain in effect until 30 days after Gov. Newsom lifts the state of emergency relating to COVID-19.

“Businesses that have expanded operations onto private property would be allowed to stay until after the emergency order is over. The businesses within the public right of way would have 30 business days to comply,” said Zuidervaart.

The change to the “Emergency Services” ordinance was approved along with revisiting two related ordinances – “Sidewalk Dining and Public Walkways” and “Outdoor Dining Within a Public Right-of-Way.”

Zuidervaart indicated that the amendment to the chapter on “Sideway Dining and Public Walkways” had not been updated since 1999.

Under directions of elected leaders, his staff cleaned up the chapter while keeping up sidewalk dining.

“This better defines the permitting process for outdoor dining and would allow outdoor dining in all commercial areas and not just downtown,” Zuidervaart said.

Included is an annual permit and renewal fee.

Added Ripon resident Kim Anderson: “This effectively eliminates platform dining.”

That was in reference to local eatery ‘A Matter of Taste’ – a platform was constructed at the downtown business at 115 E. Main St. along the front parking lot for outside dining during the pandemic.

Anderson and others have enjoyed the outdoor ambience consisting of live music on Friday nights that attracts people to downtown. She also acknowledged the recent discussions of the platform structure taking away parking spaces.

Council repealed the “Outdoor Dining Within a Public Right-of-Way” ordinance.

Mayor Daniel de Graaf confirmed the repeal was outdoor dining with public right-of-ways and not sidewalk dining.

Zuidervaart point out that this chapter allowed for platforms between Acacia Avenue and Norse Street in downtown, with an annual permit, to operate outside of the months of April through October in order to keep businesses going during COVID.

Furthermore, he said that some of these alcohol-only places would not have been allowed to remain in operation if not for the emergency ordinance.