I’m getting used to criticising the City of Yarra. This is the third time this week. This time the issue is the alleged council plan to remove restaurant and cafe outdoor tables from side streets. I don’t recall seeing any community consultation about this.
Have a significant number of ratepayers and residents complained about outdoor tables? Not that I am aware of. As far as I know there has been no public consultation about the issue, and there is no substantial push from residents in favour of this plan. It appears to be an invention of council.
According to the Melbourne Times Weekly, restaurants and cafes in the City of Yarra have been repeatedly refused permission to provide outdoor seating on side street areas despite planning rules allowing it, and in recent weeks businesses have been written to by council to inform them that their current side street outdoor seating will be completely removed by 2014.
This is only my opinion, but I believe most residents of the City of Yarra, and in particular Fitzroy, do not want this. We did not ask for it, we were not consulted about it, and we think it is moronic. We love our local cafes and restaurants, and we live here because we like being able to walk around the corner and eat a fantastic meal.
Reducing the seating of cafes and restaurants will make some businesses non-viable and they will close. On weekends it will make it much more difficult for locals to get a seat at a cafe, many of which are already crowded with tourists. Has anyone on council tried getting into Ici or Min Lokal on a weekend? Are they fucking mad? Apparently yes they are. Totally. Fucked. In. The. Head.
It is ludicrous that a venue like Madame Sousou will have to remove their tables from the Bell St side of their corner. What about Dr Java? As they are on the corner of two main streets, why do they get an unfair advantage? Cafes located entirely on side streets like Ici and Min Lokal will lose out badly. That sounds like discrimination and a potentially unlawful restraint of trade.
It could also affect commercial rents as corner properties with one side on a side street, which may have been considered more valuable than others, suddenly become less valuable. And businesses located on side streets, like Shire cafe, will suffer the most.
Fitzroy is not a normal suburb, and residents like it that way. Every street is more than a simple residential suburban street. Every street has history and is full of life and has character. Almost every street has some kind of small business on it. Fitzroy is the oldest suburb in Melbourne, and the smallest. It is also possibly the most vibrant, diverse and socially active. Residents want to keep it that way. We want it busy and full of life, not quiet and boring.
Locals love their back street cafes. Side street cafes like Ici and Min Lokal are awesome and if they were forced to close due to council stupidity I would be doing everything I could to support them in suing the council. The City of Yarra. Proudly fucked in the head since 1994.