SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Al Fresco outdoor dining officially became a permanent option in Sacramento in June, but a popular area in midtown is no longer closed to traffic.
R Street between 14th and 15th streets recently opened to traffic, as a change in Sacramento’s new Al Fresco Dining Program went into effect Aug. 1. Capital between 18th and 19th streets is another area that opened for traffic.
According to a series of tweets from Sacramento City councilmember Katie Valenzuela, the nonclosures in those areas “were both sponsored by the businesses on those blocks, who decided to reopen the streets since they feel that the closures were negatively impacting some customers.”
“I may disagree, but in the end it is their call,” Valenzuela tweeted. “Even if we had the resources to do it ourselves, I doubt the city would close streets over the objections of local property owners and businesses.”
When indoor dining was restricted in California during the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants and businesses offered outdoor dining as a temporary solution.
R Street was one of many locations in the city that opted to convert sidewalks and roadways into an outdoor dining space.
The reopening of R Street was decided by the change in the new Al Fresco program, which meant street closures for outdoor dining must reopen on Aug. 1 as part of the program’s transitioning schedule.
When the new program went into effect, it meant that costs incurred and fees associated with the closures would suddenly need to be paid for by the businesses, according to Wesley Fagundes, an account manager for MMS Strategies, a consulting firm that represents the R Street Partnership.
“All of our businesses enjoy the street closure and we would love to keep it open with additional help from the city,” Fagundes told FOX40 in a phone interview Thursday. “But at this time, it’s just not a sustainable option.”
During the temporary Al Fresco program, Fagundes said the R Street Partnership received a grant from the city that allowed businesses to set up the street closures.
“The new cost is nearly $100,000 to keep the street closed permanently per year,” Fagundes said. “Under the temporary Al Fresco program, we were sharing that cost with the city and it wasn’t near that amount and it doesn’t include inflation costs that are going on within the country.”
Although it’s understood that the R Street closure will be missed, Fagundes said the R Street district plans to have outdoor dining again in the future.
The R Street Partnership is looking to create a more permanent space for the district and is working with the city on creating a grant program to help offset some of the costs and minimize the impact on businesses.
In a tweet, Valenzuela said, “The city is redesigning a program for street closures and parklets based on businesses’ input to make it easier as possible.”
“We’ve also put $2M into the program to help offset expenses,” Valenzuela tweeted. “I’m really hopeful that businesses will reevaluate these installations as that program gets rolling.”
Until a permanent solution comes for the R Street district, Fagundes mentioned the area’s restaurants currently have patios for customers wanting to enjoy a meal outdoors.
“We do have outdoor dining today,” Fagundes said. “All of our businesses have patios that you’re more than welcome to sit on. Some of them even have misters to keep you away from the heat.”