Poway makes relaxed rules on outdoor dining permanent

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POWAY, Calif. – Relaxed rules on outdoor dining are here to stay in Poway after a unanimous city council vote Tuesday.

Council approved extending its relaxed policy on outdoor dining with Mayor Steve Vaus directing staff to amend the local municipal code to allow it to continue after the coronavirus pandemic ends. The body also will allow restaurants to keep city-owned picnic tables for at least another year.

About 30 restaurants have taken advantage of the tables the city purchased and loaned out in July to help eateries expand outdoor seating capacity.

“We have an opportunity to do something here, extend this and help out the folks that really do need it and also help out the citizens that want to come down and have something to eat,” Councilman Barry Leonard said. “This will give them more choices.”

Vaus proposed keeping the changes as the relaxed policies have shown some positive outcomes.

“Many restaurants invested significant resources to create outdoor dining opportunities and it makes sense to allow this type of use in the future,” Vaus wrote in a memorandum about the policy. “I don’t see a downside, and I believe my fellow Councilmembers will agree that we should continue to do all we can to help our local businesses.”

Restaurants told FOX 5 many patrons even have preferred dining outdoors.

“People absolutely love them, it worked so well,” said Kevin Jette, general manager at Hamburger Factory. “Even when it’s in the hottest part of the day, we have people that prefer to sit outside.”

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