- FILE PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
Most of the time, the small beach town of Cayucos is known as a laid-back surf town, but on the Fourth of July, tens of thousands of people flock to the downtown area to watch the annual Fourth of July parade. And now, some local officials are proposing a ban on locals setting up seats early.
Cayucos residents often set up seats and rope off private viewing areas, which has resulted in cluttered streets and obstructed storefronts, said John Carsel, president of the Cayucos Citizen’s Advisory Council (CCAC).
The CCAC is scheduled to discuss the issue at its Aug. 6 meeting. If members do choose to prohibit early set up, the council’s recommendation will go to SLO County Public Works, which could result in a proposed ordinance before the Board of Supervisors.
“There have been complaints about this issue escalating over the last few years,” Carsel said. “The problem is, of course, that in year one some chairs were put out on the sidewalk to save a spot. In year two, some more chairs were set up in advance. Eventually, all the sidewalks got taken up, so people started putting them out on the street in front of the red curbs. Then in front of the white curbs and onward, until this year the parking spaces took the brunt of the inevitable expansion.”
Carsel believes that local businesses are negatively impacted by the extended set-up period. The night before the parade this year, Carsel said, he’d planned to meet friends for dinner at a local restaurant, but the parking spaces were blocked by chairs.
“I was not happy,” he said.
But the popularity of the parade has left locals with no choice but to save their spots days in advance, said Cayucos parade coordinator Micah Smith. About 30,000 people attended this year’s parade, he explained. That attendance level is roughly 10 times the town’s population.
Smith said locals feel that it’s their right to set up early, adding that the parade is intended for the community, “not for the people coming in from out of town.”
He added that businesses should be happy to have so many potential customers setting up in front of stores: “I don’t see how business owners could be against that.”