BLAND BRAND… Squid tooled around in Squid’s jalopy over the weekend to check out the latest dining parklets springing up outside of restaurants. In Carmel, restaurateurs erected primary-color umbrellas to shade diners, reminiscent of quaint European village streets – exactly the effect Carmelites told the Carmel City Council they wanted to see when the concept was first discussed in May.

Unfortunately, the days of bright colors will soon be over. After spending thousands of dollars on umbrellas matching their brands, restaurateurs were told they all have to be replaced by earth tones. City Administrator Chip Rerig says reds, oranges and other colors are OK, but only if muted. No primary colors allowed.

The edict passed down by the council on June 16 went too far for Lydia Lyons, who with her husband purchased Patisserie Boissiere Restaurant in December. To go with their French country theme, they installed bright blue umbrellas. They reopened June 2 and have little cash to spend. “We’ve been trying to please (the city) but it’s just to no avail,” Lyons says. “We’re spending money we don’t really have right now for a temporary situation.”

Councilmember Bobby Richards tells Squid’s colleague that while the city is sensitive to the cost, the city wants to “protect the brand of Carmel-by-the-Sea and what residents expect.”

That brand – which now rivals Monterey beige for beigeness – must be protected at all costs, apparently, just not the city’s.

UNDER FIRE… Squid loves the simple joy of pyrotechnics, but they have had a way of shaking the lair lately while Squid is deep in a REM cycle, dreaming of eating shrimp-flavored popcorn and the world returning to its glory days of, say, February 2020.

The city of Seaside canceled its city-sponsored July Fourth fireworks show this year (no large gatherings), and is also getting serious about its crackdown, with the “full intent to enforce our zero-tolerance policy for illegal fireworks,” according to a June 30 press release. Specifically, that means a new reward system for people who turn in violators – $50 per tip that leads to a citation, and citations now run $2,500.

You can cash in up to five times, kind of like a loyalty card for reporting fireworks violators. (To enter – err, file a complaint – call 831-718-8777; you do have to put your name on the complaint. Squid also tried the online tipline, but got a weird error message: “The specified blob does not exist.”)

Squid will spend July Fourth playing fireworks bingo from the roof of the lair (only until 10pm, when all fireworks are supposed to stop, per the city’s new rules), counting the number of illegal fireworks, basking in their reddish glow and thinking about how they are neither safe nor sane, but they are festive and fun.

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