Commissioner Moran has modified his proposal to authorize himself as the arbiter of outdoor dining. The revised amendment to the city code would now require the “advice and consent” of the Commissioner of Public Works on any plan to establish outdoor dining on city properties.
In our commission form of government, the Department of Public Works has the responsibility of maintaining the city’s roads and sidewalks. The Commissioner of Accounts cannot usurp that authority.
At this morning’s pre-agenda meeting Commissioner Moran asked Tony Izzo, the interim City Attorney, if the changes to his proposal would require a new public hearing. Tony responded that if the change were substantive then there would need to be a new notice and a new hearing. Unfortunately, technical problems with Zoom interrupted the discussion. When the Zoom meeting was able to continue Mayor Kim told the participants that Commissioner Moran would talk further with Tony and resolve the issue later. At this point it is unclear whether there will be a vote on this issue at tomorrow (Tuesday, 3/1/22) night’s City Council meeting.
I found it interesting that the Commissioner of Public Safety, James Montagnino, offered no pushback regarding the marginalization of his department from the permitting process for outdoor dining. Public Safety used to be represented by the Battalion Chief of the Fire Department on the committee that oversaw the expansion of restaurants onto city streets and sidewalks. Other members of the original committee, the Director of Risk and Safety and the City Attorney have also not been reinstated.
Fees and Decorations
The proposal also institutes fees now for permits for outdoor dining and now allows “decorations” which were previously prohibited. There is no indication of any standards for the “decorations.”