The Placentia City Council has unanimously approved the extension of the temporary street closure on Santa Fe Avenue until June 30 in response to the coronavirus, allowing restaurants and businesses to continue outdoor dining services in Old Town Placentia. 

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Restaurants in Old Town Placentia have been providing outdoor dining services since mid August and will now continue on through next summer. The outdoor dining has been praised by businesses and customers alike. According to Joseph Lambert, the city’s director of development services, businesses have been able to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, while customers safely enjoy dining out.

“Since the implementation of the outdoor dining program, there has been much greater use of the public street on Santa Fe to provide that safe environment for restaurant patrons and other retail shop patrons while maintaining appropriate safety measures,” Lambert told the City Council during the panel’s Nov. 3 meeting.

Rosalina Davis, who owns the Tlaquepaque restaurant, fully supports the council’s action.

“The outdoor dining in Old Town has been a total success. It has become one of the premier dining out areas in Orange County because it’s in the heart of a charming setting,” said Davis told the council. “It feels like it’s the beginning of revitalization of our Old Town, which we have been waiting for for at least three decades.” 

Another member of the public spoke on the parking situation in Old Town during the meeting, criticizing the inconvenient location of the handicap parking spots. “That chaos of trying to go around in circles, trying to find a parking spot is just very bad,” she said. 

Mayor Pro Tem Jeremy Yamaguchi said some parking enforcement adjustments are needed.

“I’d just like to see us enforce the short-term parking requirements in the backlots and what not just so the folks that are coming in to either pick up food or grab something to eat real quick and head out have some parking,” he said.

Council member Rhonda Shader said the extension of outdoor dining is a good move, given the uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Being outdoors with the basically unlimited ventilation is certainly better for the pandemic in general and people’s safety so I’m definitely supportive,” Shader said.

Council member Chad Wanke said he has visited the Old Town dining area several times himself and seen its popularity firsthand. 

“We’re attracting people that wouldn’t have normally come to Placentia or to Old Town, so I’m quite happy that this has been so successful,” Wanke said.

Other Orange County cities have taken actions similar to Placentia in order to support their local businesses during the pandemic. For example, Fountain Valley City Council has allowed businesses without proper outdoor space to temporarily set up services in designated public areas. 

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