The City of Sacramento’s Farm to Fork Al Fresco program, which has provided space for outdoor dining during the pandemic by using sidewalk, sidewalk buffer, parking lane, and/or street areas, has been in my opinion a great success. Though I’m COVID cautious and not partaking, I know that this program has been critical to keeping many restaurants in business. I hope that the program continues, to some degree, even after the pandemic. Even when dining inside is permitted again, I think these outdoor spaces are a strong addition to the livability of Sacramento, and in almost all cases is a better use of street space than parking. I strongly support the permanent closure of some street segments, particularly R Street between 14th and 15th, and 20th Street between J and K. I also support widening of sidewalks or buffer space so that more restaurants can permanently offer outside dining space.
In the initial rollout, there were a number of problems. Some of the sidewalk diversions were not posted properly, and the ramps provided did not meet ADA. In a few cases sidewalks were completely blocked, without providing an alternate route. But these problems seemed to be quickly resolved, through the work of the city, business owners, and business associations. I talked with a number of restaurant owners and managers, making suggestions of improvements, and they almost always made them. Though I recognize some people don’t think there should be dining or drinking outside at all during the pandemic, this program really has a good vibe, in my mind. The businesses have been positive, the people have been positive.
Except El Santo. El Santo, a restaurant/night club at K Street and 10th Street, put up a barrier and shelter that completely blocks the sidewalk on the south side of K. For a while, the sidewalk to the east was blocked by an active utility construction zone, but that construction is long since over. People walking or rolling (wheelchair) are forced out onto the detectable warning stripe (very uncomfortable to travel along) or the light rail tracks (dangerous). See the photo below.
I reported this issue to the city on September 23, 2020. I don’t know when the blockage was installed, since this was my backpacking season and I may well have missed it. It is not clear to me whether the city gave issued a faulty encroachment permit or whether the business violated the permit, but the effect is the same, a sidewalk that can’t be used. I followed up with a phone call January 6, 2021. Nothing has been done to correct the issue. The business does not care, the city does not care. It is problems like this one, allowed to fester, that will darken public perception of the Al Fresco program.