The City of Sonoma, in partnership with our local business organizations, is in the process of adopting new policies and procedures aimed at quickly assisting local businesses with adapting to the challenges created by physical (“social”) distancing requirements as we re-emerge from the most stringent phase of the COVID-19 “shutdown”. The goal is to help all of our businesses re-open and to creatively use public and private spaces for the collective success of our business community (restaurants, retail, wine tasting, and offices).
At their meeting on Monday, May 18, 2020, the City Council voted to ratify the recommendations made by the City Council appointed Economic Reopening and Recovery Ad Hoc Subcommittee, which was led by Mayor Logan Harvey and Vice Mayor Rachel Hundley in concert with the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau and the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance.
The City adopted three initial, primary strategies aimed at assisting businesses to meet re-opening challenges, including but not limited to the use of surrounding/adjoining areas to existing square footage by expanding into nearby public and private spaces. The adopted strategies mention the use of sidewalks, alleyways, courtyards, parking lots and a few other areas, but intentionally was left open-ended to allow businesses to creatively suggest the spaces that would be useful for their operations. The City is also working on plans to utilize portions of the Sonoma Plaza Park, City Hall parking lot and Grinstead Amphitheater as additional spaces/venues for businesses to supplement their existing service areas. Use of the Plaza Park and any public spaces will be limited and strategically spaced to ensure the public is able to enjoy these community assets.
Business area expansion plans will require compliance with ADA regulations, permission from affected property owners, assurances that the space will be appropriately managed for safety and sanitation, etc. We encourage businesses to work with their neighbors to collaborate on plans that will be mutually beneficial and not detract from each other’s ability to operate successfully.
The pre-application form will guide and assist City staff to review needs/requests and then to determine the appropriate mechanism to quickly approve requests. There is no fee or cost for the City to review your proposed plans for expansion (as approved by the City Council) and staff hopes to be able to issue a permit to you within a few days to a week of a completed application. In addition to the information requested, attaching (or be prepared to provide) the following will be useful in expediting your request:
- Overall description of additional space or other space modifications that you would like to implement to help your business based on new physical (“social”) distancing requirements;
- Photos/ Floor Plans and Schematic diagrams to scale;
- Documentation of Insurance with the ability to provide Additional Insured Coverage for the City and/or any other entity whose property your plans will involve;
- Written permission from property owner/manager of all included properties; and
- Any other documentation that will ensure compliance with all applicable laws & regulations.
For questions on this program, please contact: