Shelf life on outdoor proclamation extended

A proclamation on outdoor dining and retail sales in Langley has been extended at least six months.

A proclamation concerning outdoor dining and retail sales that originated during the COVID-19 pandemic in Langley has been extended at least another six months.

Although a sidewalk cafe ordinance for the Village by the Sea has existed on the books since 2012, it has stricter provisions than that of a proclamation signed by former Mayor Tim Callison in 2020, which has allowed restaurateurs and retailers greater flexibility in choosing to expand business outside.

During a city council meeting Monday night, Director of Community Planning Meredith Penny presented a staff recommendation that the proclamation, which expires May 26, should come to a permanent end.

Yet the council expressed support for continuing the proclamation through Thanksgiving.

“I think it’d be premature for us to allow this to expire at this point. While a lot of the mandates have been removed and the restrictions on occupancy are diminished, there’s still a lot of people who aren’t comfortable being in close quarters,” Councilmember Thomas Gill said, “and I think if we can allow our business community to address those concerns in a reasonable matter, I think that’s a good idea.”

Councilmember Rhonda Salerno said the council had received a message from the head of the Langley Chamber of Commerce asking the council to hold off on the vote.

“It brings a lot to a community, and I love it,” she said of the proclamation. “Who wants cars out there when you can have people?”

Regardless of whether the council were to extend the proclamation, Penny pointed out, the tents some businesses have erected will require temporary building permits, or even be swapped out for more permanent structures. She said there are some safety concerns surrounding the tents, such as how they’re secured or where heating elements are placed inside.

“Our building permit review process is very expedient these days because we have an in-house building official,” she said.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to extend the proclamation for another six months, which allows businesses to use sidewalks and adjacent parking spaces to expand. In the meantime, Penny will work with business owners to secure the appropriate permitting for their structures.