It has been gratifying to witness the outpouring of support for Albany's businesses and their resiliency and inventiveness through these turbulent times. We want to acknowledge and thank our business district for their patience and support as we work through the continuing phases in getting each and every one of our businesses back open. Our collective response to the pandemic has shone a spotlight on what makes the city of Albany so special.
The City has been working with the Solano Avenue Association and the Albany Chamber of Commerce to develop or update programs to support businesses and help them survive this crisis. The City has made support for businesses a top priority devoting extensive resources from the Community Development Department, the Economic Development Committee, and the office of the City Manager to this effort. As the restaurant and retail community has received clearance to open outdoors from Alameda County, our immediate priority has been to get businesses through the encroachment permit process as quickly as possible. Late last week, some businesses began outdoor operations without having completed that process, potentially placing their customers and staff at risk, exposing businesses to excessive liability, and in some instances, utilizing more space than was fair to the other businesses on the block. Due to extraordinary effort from the City's Community Development Department, all of these uses have now been issued permits, (with some conditions) and we are working with the City to make the encroachment application available and the process as seamless as possible.
Our organizations will continue to work and communicate together. We overwhelmingly want to provide our businesses with a safe and equitable plan to reopen. We also want to encourage our business community to utilize appropriate public space to dine and do business outdoors. While utilizing public space in this capacity, we must be mindful that the use of public space should benefit the district and not be at the expense of other businesses.
While we understand and appreciate the desires and enthusiasm surrounding the “Albany Inside Out” program, we want to be clear that it is not a sponsored initiative from the City of Albany, nor is it sponsored by the Albany Chamber or the Solano Avenue Association. We have also been concerned by the social media campaigns against representatives within the City done so in support of the program. We want to repeat very clearly that the City has been extraordinarily supportive of business operations during this period, and has developed and published their guidelines for businesses reopening, including use of public right of way. We all continue to encourage businesses to utilize outdoor space, but wish to emphasize that it be done so with permitted approval.
Please contact the City of Albany at (510) 528-5760 for more information.
We recognize we are all in this together. We have listened to the needs of all our businesses and have been moving quickly to make sure those needs are addressed. Our continued efforts are to make sure all businesses are fairly represented and that outgoing information is consistent with City processes and ordinances. We do this in order to ensure safety is prioritized in outdoor operations for our businesses, their customers, transit, and our greater community at large.
From the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Solano Avenue Association.
For your reference:
City of Albany
City of Berkeley
Alameda County Health Department
The CA Governor's Resilience Roadmap with Business Operation Resources
Contra Costa County Health Department (El Cerrito)