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ETC. Photo of the day by Daniel Dreifuss. Albatross Ridge Winery tasting associate Melissa Crisafulli (center) pours a glass of wine for Stevei and Cameron Joslyn as they enjoy a wine tasting on the Albatross parklet in Carmel. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

Carmel is closing its wine tasting parklets. Are we ready for that?

Good afternoon. 

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier here, thinking about silver linings.

The past 16 months of the pandemic have been overwhelmingly challenging, for individuals, businesses and governance systems. But the difficulty has pushed us to do some things differently—often with positive results. To me, increased outdoor eating and drinking, enlivening the streets of our downtowns with parklets and patios, is one such silver lining. But what will happen to these innovations as we move into a new normal is only just beginning to become clear.

Tomorrow, July 15, Carmel will officially close its wine tasting parklets. The parklets were given 30 days to remain after California’s official reopening, and now must be packed up. Restaurant parklets, meanwhile, are allowed to remain for 90 days past reopening, or September 15.

Owners of the tasting rooms, you might imagine, are not thrilled. There are sort of two main issues that business owners bring up. First, how is this fair? And second, are we actually ready to return to normal in this way?

On the first point, Scott Caraccioli, of Caraccioli Cellars, acutely feels an inequity compared to restaurant rules. He wouldn’t complain if all parklets had to close on the same day, he says. But the different dates “seems arbitrary.” Jim Schultze, the proprietor and winemaker at Windy Oaks, agrees. He says that fellow winemakers with tasting rooms in other places are surprised by Carmel’s move.

It is not, however, a completely arbitrary decision by Carmel City Council (and Caraccioli understands this). Wine tasting rooms are zoned differently from restaurants. “The thinking is that they’re retail only,” Carmel-by-the-Sea Mayor Dave Potter says. Potter says he’d like to move toward allowing wine tasting rooms to operate outdoors in their own private patio space. The argument against parklets—that they use public parking spaces—wouldn’t hold up here. “I’d like to have a council discussion on that,” Potter says.

As for the issue of whether or not we’re ready to return to full indoor wine tasting? That’s more complicated, because it includes questions about public health, public comfort and economic recovery. “I think they’re being a little hasty in having us go back inside right away,” Caraccioli says. Not all guests are comfortable being inside the relatively small space of a tasting room. And with the delta variant out there, Schultze adds, he’s not at all confident that we won’t see another lockdown. Other people (like me) just like outdoor dining. Carmel recently conducted a survey of residents to hear how they feel about parklets, but has yet to release the results.

Then there’s the fact that businesses are still struggling to recover from the economic impacts of the shutdown—“that extra capacity is really important,” Schultze says. Caraccioli points out that, for all these reasons, the state department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has extended emergency allowances for this kind of outdoor drinking through the end of 2021. The misalignment between that and Carmel’s approach, he says, is confusing.

In the end, for Caraccioli at least, it breaks down to a cost-benefit analysis. “I don’t think it costs Carmel very much to let us keep them,” he says. “And the benefit is high.”

-Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Monterey County NOW editor, tajha@mcweekly.com

BY THE NUMBERS

Another food and beverage innovation of the pandemic: to-go cocktails. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has extended this allowance through Dec. 31, 2021. Meanwhile California’s legislature is working to make it permanent—Senate Bill 389, which passed the Senate unanimously in May, would do just this.

LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Private pilot was ferrying her passenger to a son's medical appointment at the time of a crash outside Monterey Regional Airport. Mary Ellen Carlin, an experienced pilot and flight instructor, had barely taken off in her Golden Eagle Cessna under low cloud cover about 10:30am on July 13 when the plane swerved toward the ground, slammed into a home in the Monterra development off of Highway 68 and burst into flames.

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History introduces a new exhibit and new leadership. If the walls could speak at Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, they’d have a lot to say. The museum has been open since 1883—but museums, and how people use them, are changing.

The Monterey County Elections Department has a new leader. Gina Martinez, formerly the assistant registrar of voters, became registrar of voters effective July 12. She is the first Latina in Monterey County to hold the job, and is preparing for the Sept. 14 gubernatorial recall election.

Jazz Fest tickets go quickly this year. They have been on sale for only a day, but tickets for the upcoming 64th Monterey Jazz Festival are almost sold out.

We’re number two. In which Squid discovers that Highway 1 in Big Sur is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world on the basis of photos per mile. Just don’t plan a night photoshoot at Bixby Bridge for the next three weeks.

SPONSORED: EAT+DRINK

Beach House at Lovers Point Indoor Dining & Takeout Daily 4-8:30pm. Sunset Supper, cocktails & wine. Click for menus/order. 375.2345, 620 Ocean View, PG.

Abalonetti on the Wharf Indoor & Outdoor Dining plus Takeout Everyday 11:30am-8:30pm. Monterey's Best Calamari plus seafood, pasta & more. Click for menus/order. 373.1851

The Sardine Factory Indoor dining nightly, 4:30-9:30pm. Special Early Dinner Menu from 4:30-6pm. Click here for menus, details and reservations or to place a takeout order. 701 Wave Street, Monterey, 831-373-3775

Melville Tavern Indoor and Patio Dining plus Takeout Mon-Fri 11:30am, Sat & Sun Brunch at 10am. Click for Menu. 643.9525, 484 Washington St, Monterey.

Advertise here for $49 for 12 words / +$10 xlarge / +$1 add'l. word
Email sales@mcweekly.com or call 831-394-5656.
 
LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day. Lauren Wilkins, ARIEL Theatrical’s newest artist-in-residence, has named “Let’s Twist Again” by Chubby Checker as her summer anthem. “His deep, powerful voice is full of joy that quickly spreads to the listener,” Wilkins says. “His crisp, staccato notes echo the sharp dance movements of the time. As I watch videos of his performances, I can feel the joy flowing through him. ‘Let’s Twist Again’ starts my summer off right, full of energy and potential.” Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created).

Reducing Homelessness. After a year-long process, the Coalition of Homeless Service Providers recently released its draft "5 Year Plan to Reduce Homelessness" and is now seeking public comments. Participate in a virtual meeting or send comments directly to CHSP. The meeting happens from 1-2:30pm on Thursday, July 15.

Food for furry friends. Retailer Pet Food Express is doing its annual food bank campaign to help support families that need free pet food. Donations will benefit local pet food banks, shelters and rescues. The campaign runs until Aug. 1.

Flywheel Wines in Castroville separates itself within the local Pinot-heavy scene. Flywheel, based in Castroville, uses grapes exclusively from the Chalone appellation near Pinnacles National Park.

BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

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IN CONTEXT

How Tucker Carlson became the voice of white grievance. With former president Donald Trump’s defeat, and the death of Rush Limbaugh, the Fox News host has emerged as a dominant force shaping a Republican Party energized by racial resentment.
-The Washington Post, July 14, 2021

How should we do drugs now? Michael Pollan takes a dive into the various ways formerly-illegal substances can and should be used in medical, religious, and retreat settings.
-The New York Times, July 9, 2021

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Makeout summer is here. “It’s like a faucet has been turned on.”

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