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Tents must come down, city says, as restaurants, customers push back

Original post made on Aug 23, 2022

The city notified businesses that they need to remove temporary tent structures for fire code reasons. Some restaurant owners are frustrated by the short notice and sudden change.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 23, 2022, 1:34 PM

Comments (22)

Posted by Ellie
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Ellie is a registered user.

This is very sad - glad getting press coverage as had no idea - how do we lobby Sacramento to amend Fire code to take into account covid so can have safety from fire as well as outdoor seating so safety from covid which is not going away (umbrellas are not as good coverage in strong sun or hopefully rain we so need). Perhaps there can be council inspectors to make sure all is safe while allowing tents to remain? Where is the petition re this?

Posted by A Talking Cat
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2022 at 2:48 pm

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

I am extremely disappointed by the city's decision here. They haven't enforced the ban in more than 2 years, and there's no really good reason to start now. This is extremely unfriendly to small businesses and their customers.
Who can we hold accountable for this, and how can we push for getting the tents back?
Fire is dangerous, but so is skin cancer!
Plus, as they say, Winter is Coming…

Posted by SallyVP
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 23, 2022 at 3:16 pm

SallyVP is a registered user.

This is ridiculous! If it was safe from a fire point of view for 2 years, it's still safe now. This is a really bad idea to make restaurants take down their tents. Lots of people, including myself, prefer to eat outdoors because of Covid. Taking the tents down to put up decorative lights is inane. The tents make the downtown look very inviting. We want people to come downtown and eat in the restaurants, taking the tents down is counter-productive to that goal. I hope the council will change their minds.

Posted by Shane
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2022 at 3:34 pm

Shane is a registered user.

Open-sided tents are fire-hazards? Give me a break. If this violates the fire code it is pathetic. The City simply should not enforce this ridiculous code. I guarantee you the exposure to strong UV is much more hazardous than the low risk fire hazard. Before making restaurants take down tents they should weigh the benefits vs costs. There are measures that can be taken to reduce the fire risk such as placing fire extinguishers in the tents and fire-proofing the tent fabrics if that is really your concern . Lastly, I think the fabric should be tested for UV protection. The UV index of the tent fabric should be at least 80%. I think it is the same UVI as outdoor clothing and bathing suits.

Posted by Johnny Yuma
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 23, 2022 at 3:56 pm

Johnny Yuma is a registered user.

While we’re all for safety, laws were not enforced for 2 years. How is it more dangerous now??? And then getting different messages from different city departments must be infuriating to businesses who have been hammered by the effects that COVID-19 had on their bottom line.

Posted by drslb
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:31 pm

drslb is a registered user.

I’m for keeping tents up. I’ve lived in Mountain View for 37 years, home owner. I think requiring tents down a big mistake. I’m in my 70s and do not feel safe eating inside. This is crazy stupid and I hope you get a lot of push back. I will connect with City Council.

Posted by A Talking Dog
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2022 at 4:50 pm

A Talking Dog is a registered user.

I think this is great! Last time I went to Steins there was a bunch of heaters all over the place under the tarp. You couldn't even get to the exit without going through these heaters.
Also, comparing UV rays versus a fire is silly. If you worried about that wear a long sleeve and a hat.

Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 5:08 pm

Ok is a registered user.

I’m pro-tents, but tent covering Steins patio did look ugly.

Posted by Mom and pop landlord
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 6:26 pm

Mom and pop landlord is a registered user.

Longtime resident, property owner, and voter here… I’m pro-tent. We won’t eat out inside. No tent fire injuries yet… if it was good enough for two years it’s good for four;)

Posted by smorr
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 23, 2022 at 6:52 pm

smorr is a registered user.

My husband and I are among those who are not ready to eat indoors at restaurants. The tents make it so easy - no having to move umbrellas when the sun shifts, protection from wind and the occasional rain. We need to be able to keep supporting small local businesses. I'm very sad and frustrated that a solution hasn't been found that would allow the tents to stay up. If there's a citizen petition, I want to sign it!

Posted by Gracie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:11 pm

Gracie is a registered user.

I'm still not eating indoors because of Covid. If outdoor dining is less comfortable, I won't be patronizing our local restaurants as much. This is sad all around.

Posted by Mtn View Mom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 24, 2022 at 4:58 am

Mtn View Mom is a registered user.

Im supportive of the tent ban! Castro Street looks very shabby and haphazzard now. Umbrellas will provide a more unified look for the whole street like in other towns like LA and MV The restaurant businesses should be more willing to adhere to these codes given they are allowed the use our our public street to double their square footage.

Posted by J Randall
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2022 at 6:36 am

J Randall is a registered user.

We just moved to Mountain View, and while it is obviously a wonderful place, we find its biggest drawback to be its safety-above-all-else local governance. While the state of CA and Santa Clara County have recently decoupled themselves from the oppressive and small-biz-busting guidance of the soon to be reformed CDC, Mountain View still seems to have an appetite for such Nanny State Authoritarianism. There’s even a certain gravitational pull at street crosswalks here, a whispering in the air, of “Don’t do it” when facing the red hand icon, a needless warning on an empty street not heard by the reasonable and fair minded jay walker of other cities.

Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 24, 2022 at 7:12 am

MyOpinion is a registered user.

If the city is enforcing CA fire code are they inspecting RVs parked on city streets to ensure they have fire extinguishers as required by law?

005 California Vehicle Code Sections 28060 Article 11. Fire Extinguishers
…. The operator of a recreational vehicle, or a vehicle to which a camper is attached, which recreational vehicle or camper is
equipped with a fire extinguisher as required by subdivision (a),
shall carry such fire extinguisher in such recreational vehicle or camper and shall maintain the fire extinguisher in an efficient. operating condition….

Posted by MV_Voter
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 24, 2022 at 9:13 am

MV_Voter is a registered user.

i would hope the city would go to bat for the businesses which are their constituents. like many, i enjoy dining out, but i do not yet feel comfortable eating indoors when doing so. we are still in the midst of a pandemic, and the city seems to have neglected that fact. tents are such a positive way for these businesses to maintain their incoming revenue and stay in the black. the city ought to be more supportive of these restaurants in our community, especially since there seems to be no end to this pandemic,

Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2022 at 10:28 am

Greg David is a registered user.

Maybe the city should start with shutting down illegal food vendors on a Castro. This last Saturday there were FIVE operating on the 200 block, utilizing city provided picnic tables for their patrons. They have propane grills and no sanitary facilities whatsoever. I called MVPD non-emergency dispatch and they said they couldn’t do anything and to call the county health department. I guess the fear of being labeled “racist” is more concerning than public health. Of course I have heard nothing from the county health department. How does a 9-5 civil servant red tab a restaurant that does not exist? They don’t. That’s the job of the POLICE to shut down illegal vendors.

I can’t put my head around it, but for some reason the City of Mountain View simply hates small businesses.

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Aug 24, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

Outdoor dining was a solution to keep businesses open during the pandemic. I'm sorry but that's not a reason anymore to violate the fire code. Safety comes first. But they City should have made this change clear before asking the public's input on blocking traffic. If you want a giant food court then build one. Repurposing Castro Street isn't working very well.

Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2022 at 10:29 pm

MV Resident is a registered user.

Love the closed-down section of Castro Street and hope to see it made permanent. There need to be some coverage structures considered in the long term solution… more than just umbrellas. Agree with others that the white tents are getting a little worn - but upgrade to nice fresh colored fabric canvas should be an option vs just removal.

Posted by Sam Connell
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2022 at 10:55 am

Sam Connell is a registered user.

These sorts of decisions are often driven by a squeaky wheel behind the scenes causing havoc for the city planners and decision makers. I was looking forward to having lunch downtown but not getting skin cancer outside and not getting covid inside. It should still be a health priority to have safe outside seating.

Posted by Sam Connell
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2022 at 11:00 am

Sam Connell is a registered user.

I should add that if the kid with the app wins a seat on the council, I know which way he'd vote.

Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Bruno is a registered user.

I had one of those food vendor hot dogs and it was delicious. It was so good that I didn't call the police.

Agree that the city does not put small businesses first at all. The vacant storefront rate on Castro is an embarrassment, and it's an issue citywide.

Posted by JAFO
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2022 at 10:28 pm

JAFO is a registered user.

I understand that perhaps it was overlooked that the California laws dictated that public streets may not have those kinds of structures to be put on the street. This may not be an issue that the City can do anything about.

And remember to operate a business you need a license to operate, which includes a provision stating the business must operate in compliance with all state laws. Thus was simply a terrible oversight, perhaps maybe even a cause of action against the city by the business for facilitating a violation of the state laws.

I know it was to provide some measure of economic activity in the Downtown and a measure to prevent permanent closures of businesses. But sometimes the method used can backfire and be even more damaging. Realize that by doing what these businesses did could result in loss of all revenues due to operating their business in violation of the business license requirements.

The City Attorney should have noticed this problem, I hope that there was some legal measure from the state that provides a defense, if it doesn't the City could be in for a lot of trouble.

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