Marina Café outdoor dining hearing continued to May 1

The Planning Commission on Monday, April 3, considered a request for a request for a permit to allow outdoor dining at Marina Café, a Main Street coffee/desert shop. However, commissioners expressed concern about pedestrian congestion near the shop and asked the applicant to come back with a new plan.

Planners voted unanimously to continue the hearing to May 1.

During the public hearing, representatives of Watson and Associates (owners of the building in which Marina Cafe is located), asked planners to approve the request.

Resident Marc Loopesko, however, said the bigger issue was Main Street itself. Loopesko urged planners to delay a vote on the issue, saying the City Council needs to make a decision about outdoor dining.

However, in response to a question from District Four Commissioner Patty Campbell, Seal Beach Community Development Director Alexa Smittle said the council was not working on the Main Street Specificc Plan. According to Smittle, the council is working on other priorities.

Multiple commissioners argued that the seating plan was too aggressive.

“I simply don’t like this drawing,” said District Three Commissioner Richard Coles, referring to a drawing of the proposed seating plan.

Some commissioners questioned the accuracy of the drawing.

Campbell said the proposal was too over-built. She said it was a great idea, but too much for the area.

District Five Commissioner Margo Wheeler asked applicant Joseph Kirolos to come back with a better plan. He agreed to come back in a week so the commission could continue the matter by May 1. (According to Assistant City Attorney Amy Greyson, the city would not have to publish another legal notice of the hearing if the commission continued the matter to a specific date.)

“The applicant, Joseph Kirolos, owner of the Marina Café is seeking a Minor Use Permit to allow an outdoor (sidewalk) dining and seating area in conjunction with the coffee house/dessert shop. The shop currently operates daily from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

“The Marina Café has been in operation since 2020, and currently has no indoor or outdoor seating for their customers, making it the only known coffee house/desert shop along Main Street without patron seating,” according to the staff report by Associate Planner Marco Cuevas Jr. and Community Development Director Alexa Smittle.

“The applicant is proposing to install a total of 12 seats and two tables along the sidewalk within an area that measures 24 feet in length, 44 inches in depth, totaling 87 square feet, and situated between two tree wells,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“The outdoor dining/seating is proposed as a tall bar style table with nine stools, while the second adjoining dining/seating area is proposed as a low table intended to accommodate a chair and up to two wheelchairs,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“The proposed space allows for more than 12 inches of pullout space for the stools and a chair, and is positioned 26 inches off the curb, with at least 12 inches clearance between the bar, table, and tree wells. A distance of 71 inches will be maintained between the building and the outdoor seating area for continued use as the sidewalk aisle for pedestrians passing by,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“The Seal Beach Public Works Department has reviewed this request and does not object to the establishment’s outdoor dining and seating area, so long as consumption is maintained within the subject designated area and does not encroach onto the sidewalk aisle, street parking, or other public areas,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“A visual cue in the form of a floor marking shall be maintained to the satisfaction of the Community Development Department, which shows the separation between the outdoor seating area and the sidewalk aisle. The applicant will be responsible for making sure the sidewalk aisle in front of the coffee house/desert shop is maintained free of obstructions, including seats, a-frame signs, or customers congregating,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“The proposed use of outdoor dining and seating areas is consistent with the General Plan Service Commercial Land Uses definition which encourages commercial areas to provide a broad range of retail and service needs for the community,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“In addition, outdoor dining is generally permitted in conjunction with legally established coffee house/desert shop and other food service uses as an accessory and incidental use to a coffee house/desert shop,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

However, according to the report, the Main Street Specific Plan requires a minor use permit is required.

“The project site is adequate for the proposed use as the primary use of the building remains a restaurant use; the installation of the outdoor dining and seating area will invite patrons to enjoy their purchases within an area that experiences a low level of utilization,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.

“The proposed resolution incorporates a condition requiring participation in the Main Street In-Lieu Parking Program by payment of the applicable in-lieu parking fee for one space prior to issuance of an occupancy permit for the outdoor dining and seating area,” Cuevas and Smittle wrote.