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Public access to San Rafael's Beach Park set for vote

A controversy plan for a restaurant to takeover the lease of a waterfront park in San Rafael will be voted on Tuesday night.
A plan for a restaurant to take over a waterfront park in San Rafael will be voted on Tuesday night by the city council. The restaurant is Terrapin Crossroads, owned by former Grateful Dead musician Phil Lesh. But not everyone is feeling the love for the new plans.

Scott Holland likes to camp out at Beach Park in San Rafael.

"Because it's out of the way of business and it's away from other people," said transient Scott Holland.

While it has a nice view of the canal, the small park is primarily surrounded by car dealerships and the restaurant.

When customers eat outside, they sometimes see things that are not very desirable.

"There are no restrooms there so that leads to some issues with that. There is drug use and violence," said Tara Patton of Terrapin Crossroads.

The restaurant is also a venue for small concerts. They have agreed to lease the park from the city for $8,000 per year under the one condition that they invest $150,000 in improvements.

"What we are looking at is a seven year lease and with that we'll feel confident to put in quite a bit of money into the par and beautify it," said Patton.

"The agreement as it is with one exception that I mentioned, is pretty sound. I think it will pass," said San Rafael Mayor Gary Philips.

We saw some preliminary drawings of what the park might look like with picnic tables, a fire pit, and space to play bocce ball.

People who want to visit the park would have to go through the restaurant and they will have the right to turn people away.

"I think it's a selfish reason why they are taking the park. They are just trying to take more and more," said Holland.

There is one final mandate for it to pass -- the restaurant must open the park for anyone on seven different occasions, to be determined later. The restaurant owners have already agreed to that.
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