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LA Mayor Karen Bass Says She Wants Outdoor Dining To Stay

An illustrated street indicates where outdoor tables were allowed in the street, sidewalk and on private property
An al fresco dining setup outside Crudo E Nudo on Main Street in Santa Monica in similar to outdoor dining areas in L.A.
(Courtesy City of L.A.)
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Al fresco dining in LA, which hugely expanded during the pandemic, looked like it could be disappearing as the city proposed returning to complex red tape-filled approvals. After a public outcry, Mayor Bass on Friday said she supports outdoor dining and is pushing city departments to work together to make the process simpler to navigate.

Why it matters

Many small restaurants were able to get through the pandemic after being temporarily approved to create outside seating areas, which then became popular with the public. But if the approval process returns to normal, the bureaucracy and expense could prove too much for restaurants already operating on thin margins.

Why now

The City Planning Commission is due to consider the new permanent approval process on April 27th. Mayor Bass stated on Friday afternoon that she "rejects a return to the status quo when it comes to outdoor dining," saying she supports small businesses and the vibrancy the program has created for neighborhoods, not to mention jobs.

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The backstory

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city implemented an emergency temporary program that allowed restaurants to keep their doors open by suspending certain zoning regulations. However, as the pandemic has lessened, there has been a push to have things return to the pre-pandemic status quo.

What's next

The mayor says she's directed city agencies to make the approval process simpler and easier to navigate. Her office has released a detailed fact sheet which proposes a complete overhauling of the process.

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