SAN MARCOS – The San Marcos City Council met on May 26 and approved an urgency ordinance adopting temporary zoning and development regulations in order to make it easier for businesses to reopen safely and serve customers while adhering to public health guidelines.
The ordinance temporarily changes the rules regarding outdoor uses and allows restaurants, retail stores and other activities to be expanded to parking lots and sidewalk patios.
These regulations include establishing temporary outdoor and drive-thru pickup areas, allowing to-go and on-site outdoor consumption of alcohol, allowing temporary banner signs and permitting outdoor group assemblies in parking lots.
“We heard from quite a few businesses that they wouldn’t be at capacity in their existing dining room areas or brewery tasting room areas or retail areas because of the social distancing requirements,” said Tess Sangster, Economic Development Director for the City of San Marcos. “So, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for these businesses to start operating again.”
Sangster told The Coast News that they have already received applications from six businesses since the ordinance went into effect last week.
The application can be found online where business owners will be asked to answer a few questions and submit a basic site plan of how they would like to use their outdoor spaces. The permit process is free and will typically take about two business days to be approved.
“People are really happy about it,” Sangster said. “Businesses are already facing an uphill battle as they get back to business and we are hoping to ease that process as much as we can.”
The plan also takes fitness centers into account and, once these establishments are allowed to reopen under phase 3 of the statewide guidelines, gyms will be able to utilize parking lots and put some of their equipment outside.
Churches and religious organizations can also apply to hold gatherings outside and in parking lots with social distancing requirements in place.
Sangster told The Coast News that these regulations will be in effect throughout the stay at home order. Once those orders have been lifted, the city will address how things will go back to normal.