Without question, the pandemic has wrought utter devastation across the globe, with more than 5000,000 lives lost in the U.S. alone, and endless, cascading impacts,

But Marin Independent Journal columnist and former Mill Valley Mayor Dick Spotswood took a moment to reflect on the fact that “the epidemic inadvertently ushered in changes and taught lessons which may improve our collective quality of life going forward.”

For instance, Spotswood notes that, “during the pandemic, Marinites discovered the wonders of outdoor dining. Due to our mild Mediterranean climate, enjoying meals and beverages on sidewalk tables or newly fashioned parklets became a popular option that will outlast shelter-in-place rules. Surprisingly, even when that practice led to partially closing downtown streets, only minor traffic impacts resulted. Unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and fees that long limited outdoor dining to proprietor-owned patios ought to evaporate.”

PictureTamalpie expanded its already substantial outdoor dining space to provide plenty of safe, convenient dining options.

​Mill Valley businesses have benefited greatly from a partnership between the Mill Valley Chamber and the City of Mill Valley that has focused on nimbly processing applications for use of both public and private space, including temporary parklets, street closures and converting outdoor spaces like parking lots into safe, convenient dining areas.

Likewise, Spotswood noted, “easing post-prohibition era alcohol rules should continue. Drunken driving and under-21 alcohol use didn’t spike just because cafes were allowed to sell adults ‘drink at home’ bottles of wine or cocktails,” he wrote.

To that end, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-SF, has proposed SB314, which would give more flexibility to bars, restaurants and music venues to help them stay afloat by relaxing some alcohol rules (ABC) and supporting permanent use of parklets, for instance. “As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this vaccine, we need to help these small businesses recover,” Wiener told the SF Chronicle



Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!