By David Armstrong

More money for an ambitious police department expansion, potential funding for a so far notional Restaurant Business Improvement District, and approval for a new downtown bicycle shop to rent bikes – overriding a split planning commission – dominated the city council’s Tuesday, April 3 meeting.

  • The ever-morphing city redo of the police department’s 1960s-era building complex at Junipero Street and Fourth Avenue has been in the works since May 2017, when $250,000 of Measure D funds was budgeted for it. In August 2017, the project expanded in scope to a total of 800,000 square feet; at that time, a design scheme by Kasavan Architects was expected to cost $122,815. Fast-forward to November 2017, when the council approved another expansion of the project with additional square feet and an estimated total cost of $1.7 million. Still with us? On April 3 of this year, the council approved an amended agreement with Kasavan Architects for $197,349 to cover last November’s plan. A bit more square footage was added to meet both current and future needs. Council members Carolyn Hardy, Jan Reimers and Bobby Richards voiced concern over the planned removal of all trees and plants to make way for the steadily growing complex, which will be built out to the street.
  • Also on April 3, the council agreed to move forward on plans to create a downtown Restaurant Business Improvement District, with conditions. Initial plans called for the city to grant $10,000 to help create an RBID, with the understanding that the public money would be refunded if the district successfully came into existence. By the April 3 meeting, the cost had mushroomed to $40,000, to be paid in equal thirds by the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the tourism marketing group Visit Carmel, and participating restaurant operators, themselves, who want a RBID to market the city’s restaurants. According to CRA President Barbara Livingston, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, the owners have not yet confirmed they have their one-third share in hand. The council gave the owners until April 30 to come up with a signed agreement that they are good for their share. Livingston told This Just In that, “I asked that it be written into the contract that sums be repaid first when monies come in [from a BRID] but no luck.” She adds, “I also said it is premature for approval until all parties had signed agreements. No luck there.”
  • The council also decided Tuesday, on a 5-0 vote, that the brand-new, high-end bicycle shop Mad Dogs & Englishmen be allowed to rent out bikes. Mayor Steve Dallas and councilmember Theis, as private citizens, appealed a decision by the planning commission to kill bike rentals after the commission deadlocked 2-2. Commissioners Stephanie Locke and Gail Lehman cast ‘no’ votes, opining that badly behaved cyclists pose a public safety hazard, as many ignore stop signs, go too fast, are often distracted and ride in chattering clumps. The council gave Mad Dogs & Englishmen the go-ahead anyway, with the provisos that renters cannot ride in large groups, that the shop review rules of the road with renters and encourage customers to keep to an approved bicycle route, much of it situated along stretches of busy San Carlos Street.