• It wasn’t about bars: Pacific Grove’s reputation is intact

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    All the brouhaha over the past few days about allowing bars in Pacific Grove – television cameras, reporters sticking microphones in faces, citizens preparing speeches for the City Council – was much ado about nothing. The draft amendments to the Municipal Code, Zoning Map and Forest Hill Specific Plan did not include opening up the city to bars.

    After some 18 meetings and hours of public input, the Planning Commission has issued draft amendments which would allow some new commercial uses downtown, perhaps a wine tasting room or brew pub, but (depending on one’s outlooks) at worst only eases some restrictions on food-to-alcohol ratios in restaurants. A full menu of food, served all day, will still be required of restaurants wishing to serve alcohol.

    The purpose of  the meetings and the amendment is to update and clarify traditional permitted uses such as retail services and restaurants, and to reconcile inconsistencies in the code. An effort is being made, said Chief Planner Lynn Burgess, to move away from the anti-business reputation Pacific Grove owns, by simplifying the permit process for traditional businesses to perhaps just an over-the-counter approval instead of a full use permit requirement. Some higher-impact uses may face more oversight, however, such as self-storage and restricted retail such as tattoo parlors.

    Bill Fredrickson, Chairman of the Planning Commission, pointed out that Pacific Grove is still more restrictive than neighboring communities in many areas, but that the new document “puts us in the mid range” as compared with Monterey and Carmel, for example.

    A complete list with changes in the level of permits needed is forthcoming, said Burgess, after Councilmember Robert Huitt pointed out that certain changes were really long overdue – such as the permit requirements for hatcheries in the downtown area. The current document has stood some 50 years with few changes, and can be expected to stand for another 50 years.

    The draft amendment will come up again in another two to four weeks, at which time Councilmembers and the public will have had the chance to pose questions of staff and to review the new document.

     

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 3, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News

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