Goodbye to the carte blanche of the Covid terraces: “It helped us a lot”



A single parking space behind the financial heart of Azca stages the change. The remains of the Covid terrace mark the curbs of the sidewalk, where a small platform supported the two small tables that became the oxygen balloon of the Avenida brewery for more than a year. “He helped us a lot”, acknowledges the bar manager, Benjamín Pérez, as he serves beers at the bar. Its temporary terrace was one of the 24 installations on parking bands in Special Acoustic Protection Zones (ZPAE) that expire this Tuesday, with the entry into force of the new Terrace ordinance of the capital.

The modification of the regulations makes the previous one, the 2013 text, more flexible, and allows tables and chairs to be deployed in places previously banned, such as corners, earthen areas, as well as stools attached to the facades.

But Rodríguez does not consider trying. «We remove it now and thus we heal in health, we do not want to be fined 3,000 euros», says the hotelier. An electric rental car now replaces your terrace. The slap in the face of the health crisis and its “ups and downs” continue to weigh: “It seems that it is beginning to rise and rise, but with the rise in prices and the pandemic… If we could set up a terrace like in Ponzano…”, he yearns. However, the carte blanche to the hospitality industry declines this February 1, although with (quite a few) nuances.

Today the map of Madrid mutates. Or should. The nearly 2,000 extensions granted by the City Council to hoteliers disappear and Some 2,000 terraces recover their pre-Covid size. Also some of those that expanded on the asphalt, above the parking spaces, those located in Special Acoustic Protection Zones (ZPAE) -such as the Avenida brewery- and in the so-called “saturated zones”, a new figure created by the Territorial Coordination Area of ​​the consistory to mark certain streets in red based on different criteria such as high occupancy or high pedestrian traffic. On sidewalks less than 6 meters wide, terraces may only occupy a third of the space; on sidewalks of more than 6 meters the size cannot exceed 40% of the public space. In short, a gibberish that begins to unravel today and that keeps the neighbors on a war footing.

In practice, this is the result: goodbye to the 2,000 extensions and the 24 terraces on parking strips of the ZPAE of Gaztambide and Azca. The rest of the nightstands will last two more years, until 2024. Ponzano Street, in the eye of the hurricane for concentrating sixty terraces on 500 meters of asphalt, is saved for now. Declared ZAP, like another fifty Madrid streets, the first draft of the ordinance promoted by the deputy mayor Begoña Villacís contemplated removing its Covid terraces. But in the work weeks of the Territorial Coordination Area directed by Silvia Saavedra (Citizens) tweaks have been incorporated. In the ZAP, the terraces on parking bands will remain until 2024, although they can only occupy 40% of the public space, so that the existing ones will have to adapt their footprint to that proportion.

As always when the rules of the game vary, there are those who adapt and those who remain the same. The terrace at the gates of the Rodilla on Calle de Orense, in the middle of ZPAE de Azca, grew almost two years ago to occupy two blue parking spaces. And there continued this noon the thin wooden platform that allows the place to enjoy a couple more tables. “Sorry, I have a lot of work today,” is the only response from the manager. Up the street, the Saona restaurant showed off its large terrace perfectly placed, a dozen tables with their matching wicker chairs, umbrellas and heaters on six green parking spaces. “Ugh, I have no idea about terraces,” the manager snorts, “the last thing I knew was that they took it away from us on February 1, but then they were supposed to leave them on parking spaces until 2024, right?” Yes and no. The nuances are important and discriminate according to protected areas (ZPAE) and “saturated”. Of the latter, there is only a preliminary map and the boards of each district will be in charge of detecting them.

The government of Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida managed to carry out the ordinance in the last plenary session with the support of the Carmenista councilors, the councilors who broke with Más Madrid last year due to disagreements with their current spokesperson, Rita Maestre. The former Town Planning delegate during Manuela Carmena’s mandate, José Manuel Calvo, released this Tuesday a brief explanatory tour of Gaztambide and some of the terraces mentioned. Calvo has talked about the meters of sidewalk, the percentages of occupation of public space and his intention to ban smoking. “We want the terraces of Madrid to be smoke-free spaces”, has pointed out. What they did manage to agree with the Martínez-Almeida team is the end of gas stoves in 2024.

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