The Manhattan Beach City Council refused a request by downtown merchants to have contractors complete all sewer and storm drain work before continuing with the "Streetscape" beautification project.
The council's decision came after Roy A. Maddock, the city's director of public works, reported that separating the sewer and storm drain projects from the other work would cost an additional $300,000 and would extend the downtown face-lift by 60 days.
In recent weeks, many merchants have contended they are losing business as a result of the construction, which is expected to be completed by late June. Besides sewer and storm drain work, the $5.3-million project calls for new sidewalks and landscaping.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, Mayor Bob Holmes announced that the state, which owns four parking lots near the Manhattan Beach pier, has agreed to place bags over the meters at the two southernmost lots, allowing two-hours of free parking through the end of April.
Merchants, hoping to stem loss of business during the Streetscape work, had wanted the state to provide free parking at all the lots.