Outdoor dining could be coming to downtown Porterville as soon as Wednesday.

At its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday the Porterville City Council will consider outdoor dining to be offered at several restaurants on Main Street and in the downtown area.

The Cellar, Mariscos 30, 5.77 Grill and Chingons, Fugazzis, The Vault and Taco Truck Cantina have all indicated they want to participate when outdoor dining is offered. Don Vino's on Main Street already offers outdoor dining in its patio area.

The Porterville Chamber of Commerce and the City of Porteville have worked together to make outdoor dining in the downtown area possible. Chamber CEO Jessica Brackeen said it's her understanding if the City Council approves the plan, outdoor dining in downtown Porterville could begin as soon as Wednesday.

The restaurants would have the chance to offer outdoor dining during their business hours every day they're open. The plan also calls for the outdoor dining to continue until all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The outdoor dining in downtown Porterville would work similar to what's now being done on Visalia's Main Street. While most of the dining would be set up on the sidewalk, parking spaces would be taken to offer outdoor dining as well.

The California Department of Public Health allows for outdoor dining as long as certain criteria are met.

At its meeting on August 4, the City Council began discussing the possibility of outdoor dining downtown. The city does allow outdoor seating downtown as long as six feet of public sidewalk remains unobstructed for pedestrian use.

But due to social distance guidelines it was originally determined six feet of separation couldn't be maintained between pedestrians and tables. That's when the council director city staff to work with the Chamber.

The Camber came up with a Community Civic event to allow for certain sidewalk, parking areas and street closures for the outdoor dining to take place. City staff stated the outdoor dining would include complete adherence to state guidelines. Barricades and fencing will be used to create enough space for outdoor dining.

In other business the council will review the usage of Porterville's transit system since the outset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The city temporarily suspended bus route No. 9 at the request of the Tule River Tribe and also eliminated routes No. 7 and No. 8, which the city stated had a low usage rate.

As a replacement, the city offered a micro-transit system, TransPort designed to provide a convenient, accessible and affordable alternative. TransPort is similar to a shuttle service used in major metropolitan areas such as New York City.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the council will be asked to consider to also eliminate routes No. 4 and No. 6, which city staff also say have low usage. Those routes would also effectively be replaced by TransPort.

City staff reported “passengers began to quickly gravitate to the new TransPort service.” City staff reported ridership through TransPort has increased by 400 percent since April.

The City Council will also consider appointing incumbent Monte Reyes to his District 4 seat. Reyes was the only candidate to file for the seat.

The Council could also decided to go ahead with placing Reyes on the ballot in the November election, but city staff noted there would be a cost savings if Reyes were simply appointed.

As part of the consent calendar the council will consider the purchase of another K-9 dog for the Porterville Police Department to replace “Luna,” who retired in February. The cost would be just more than $12,526 and would be funded by the police department's budget.

Also as part of the consent calendar, the council will consider a well project on Westwood Street just north of the North Creek Subdivision near the intersection of Westwood and Westfield. This project is being done to meet the demands of the East Porterville system as part of the state's requirements. Cost of the project is $2 million and will be reimbursed by the State Water Resource Control Board.

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