Al Fresco Dining In Los Angeles Is Now One Step Closer To Becoming Permanent
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission met Thursday and unanimously approved a proposal that would permanently extend a temporary ordinance that eased restrictions on outdoor dining during the pandemic.
The temporary ordinance allowed restaurants to transform outdoor spaces, including sidewalks, parking lots, and converted parking spaces known as parklets, into open-air dining spaces.
With indoor dining largely prohibited during the pandemic and restaurants struggling to survive on takeout orders, the temporary measure brought back customers for in-person, al fresco meals and provided a crucial opportunity for restaurants to keep on employees and to keep their doors open.
With the ordinance set to expire on May 11, many restaurant owners feared they could lose the popular al fresco option if the city returned to highly restrictive pre-pandemic regulations, which included cutting through complex red tape and paying high fees. Some said the move could force them out of business.
Mayor Bass offers support for al fresco dining
Under pressure from both restaurateurs and diners, Mayor Karen Bass proposed a new Al Fresco Ordinance that would ease zoning restrictions and amend the approval process for restaurants to establish or keep their existing outdoor dining areas.
Applications for outdoor dining would no longer require approval from the planning commission and instead go straight to the building and safety committees. The fees associated with serving alcohol outdoors would be cut. There would also be unlimited access to parking spaces converted for parklet use.
During the session, the planning commission heard from city officials such as city planners, and engineers as well as restaurant owners, members of the public, neighborhood councils and advocacy groups.
The ordinance passed with changes to curfew times, new rules about ambient music and guidance about structures.
The city council will now vote on the ordinance in the next few weeks.
Cruise off the highway and hit locally-known spots for some tasty bites.
Los Angeles-based restaurant owners rejoice as a new ordinance makes its way to the city council.
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