Bakersfield City Hall South.

Streets and sidewalks in Bakersfield could look a lot different in the near future.

On Wednesday, the Bakersfield City Council voted to allow restaurants and other businesses to close off streets, sidewalks and parking lots to set up seating and vending areas. The accommodation is meant to allow businesses more room to operate under the state’s new social distancing guidelines.

The vote came on the same day Kern County restaurants and retail shops received the OK to open their doors to customers for the first time since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order went into effect. Those businesses that are allowed to reopen, however, must follow strict social distancing and sanitation rules that could cut into their bottom line.

While state guidelines fall short of requiring restaurants to reduce their overall capacity by a specific percentage, workspaces and dining areas must be reconfigured to allow for both workers and customers to be six feet apart. In an industry known for its narrow margins, this could seriously hamper a business’ ability to turn a profit.

“I’m all about it,” said Councilman Andrae Gonzales. “The whole idea is we want as many of our businesses, and especially restaurants, to open again.”

He added that he hoped the new accommodation would allow the public to enjoy Downtown Bakersfield again.

In order to be eligible, businesses must apply to the city for a “COVID-19 Special Event Permit,” which the city will analyze for feasibility. While restaurants and retail stores outside downtown will be able to use parking lots and the sidewalk for extra space, downtown businesses will also be able to set up shop in the street.

In such an instance, the city would close off up to half of a street in order to make room.

“Restaurants, they’re probably going to be all over it. Other businesses, it depends on their footprint and if they are going to be able to do it,” said Councilman Chris Parlier. “Some of it just falls into a little bit of logistical ingenuity.”

The closures must be blocked off using mobile barricades that can be set up and torn down each day. Certain streets will not be eligible for closure, and only up to half of a parking lot may be closed off.

So far, some businesses have expressed interest in taking advantage of the new possibility, Gonzales said.

The ordinance change was added to Wednesday’s meeting as an emergency item and is meant to work hand-in-hand with the state’s recent approval that Kern County can move through Stage 2 at an accelerated pace.

The council unanimously voted for the change as part of the meeting’s consent agenda.

“I think it’s exciting,” Parlier said. “The City Council is always looking for opportunities to support its businesses.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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(12) comments

Boogerface Nutter

Nights can be lovely in Bako as are mornings. Could be worth a try. I try to be very careful right now but I'd try it.

Whatever helps. I'm big into buying takeout meals but that doesn't put servers back to work and having donated my $1200 government check to various "Feed the people" type charities, I think it will be a good first step for restaurants.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@BN: Thanks for helping out- both to charities and those in the service industry.

You're a stand-up guy.


Oh boy! Exactly what I wanted. Sit in the outside sun in a Bakersfield summer. 90+ degrees to scarf down a two hundred dollar steak and lobster feast with my family.


Well of course there are going to allow this ,Hiw would smittins cafe operate ? City councilman’s Bob smiths family cafe “ , Anonst others , aren’t there alredy out door seating at coffee shops and cafes ?


[crying] Convig 19 is REAL. People are dying,.. Every Virus will have a 2nd showing,.. sadly one never knows when. How do you eat with a Mask on,.. What about your Server or Staff of Restaurant? Only my Opinion,.. Lets sit back n watch Los Angeles or Fresno go thru the Motions, then take it from there,.. Life is Precious ( in My Book) Churches dont need people sharing Pues n communion n coffee Hour. Its all too much too soon,.. not to mention Dessert Fever n School Starting n Fall with the Flu Virus combined... Bad Idea


For realsies? You just may be right. So far Kern has been devastated by an astronomical number of deaths from the Wuhan virus, two dozen in two months! Ignore those rubes should detest science and believe that the numbers have been fudged to make it seem worse than the pandemic really is. We need to shut down everything, and I mean EVERYTHING until this virus is wiped off the face of the Earth! That includes the abortion chambers that are still butchering babies in the womb as an essential service and stealing the money from the government that was meant to protect small businesses in order to keep the death mills operating!

All Star

Streets and freeways are under construction all over this town. Especially 24th St. So yes, lets shut down more streets downtown.

Independent Voter

I imagine Dweeb and I enjoying a meal, removing our masks each time we take a bite, when suddenly Scratchy the Wanderer staggers up and takes a seat at our table. "You gonna eat that?" he asks after sneezing without shielding his face, the breeze catching the errant droplets and depositing them delicately upon the rim of Dweeb's illegal, styrofoam-but-hastily-alliwed cup containing a delightful Shirley Temple. I can see it now - a trip to Good Samaritan will be in order.


They won’t take him if he is infected. 😉


LOL! I’m sure Kern Medical Center will admit him if Good Samaritan avoids him like a leper. And what better way to harvest ballots than to encourage the Scratchy the Wanderers to give theirs to him so that they can continue to get stoned without being bothered by a piece of paper?

Masked 2020

so there's no more poop on the sidewalks?


I assume you are referring to the fecal matter on the Streets of San Francisco, where comedian Dennis Miller last night told Sean Hannity that she should be told that it ain’t doggy doo that she is stepping in!

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