The Belmont Brewing Company will have to wait at least another month before the fate of its outdoor dining parklet is determined after the California Coastal Commission postponed a decision on the space Thursday over concerns about how it would affect public access.

Commission staff said the concerns raised by the appellants would not create substantial issues, pointing out that even with the parklet sticking out about nine feet into public space there would still be 17 feet of walkway available for pedestrians. Other limitations placed on the project by the city, like a ban on string lights, would limit negative effects for birds in the area, they said.

While staff recommended that commissioners deny the residents’ appeal, some commissioners took issue with using public space for a private business’s gain. Belmont Brewing already has a portion of its restaurant built out onto the beach near the Belmont Pier, which was approved by the Commission in 1996.

“I think the concern is that this project is encroaching on public space and it’s not really clear what the public benefit would be, other than there might be some signs encouraging the public to use the space,” said Commissioner Justin Cummings.

The proposed parklet outside of Belmont Brewing Company. Photo courtesy city of Long Beach.

Because parklets are in public space, the city has required businesses to post signs saying that the public can use them without having to purchase anything from the business.

Some commissioners were moved by photos submitted by one of the appellants showing how delivery trucks parking in the walkway to the west of the patio could compromise the ability to walk or bike through the area.

Before the split vote that sent the issue to a second hearing, which could be held at the commission’s November meeting, Commissioner Catherine Rice said she’d be more supportive of the project if it didn’t include the proposed wood and metal railing and glass that makes the parklet appear to be private property.

Belmont Brewing was one of the first businesses to have its permanent parklet approved by the city after it forced businesses to take down their temporary, COVID-19-era dining spaces earlier this year and reapply for permanent status.

However, a handful of residents appealed the city zoning administrator’s approval of the 521-square-foot patio installment in May, contending that it would block views of the beach, make it harder for pedestrians to use the public walkway near the restaurant and negatively affect parking in the area.

The space is expected to hold about 55 seats, and residents have argued that the business should have to account for where all those new customers would park.

While other parklets have been approved by the city and several others in Belmont Shore are going through the process, only the Belmont Brewing Company falls within the area subject to Coastal Commission appeals, according to the city.

Other parklets along Second Street that have been approved are far enough off the beach to allow the city to make the final decision on development permits.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.