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The City Of LA Just Extended Al Fresco Dining For At Least A Year

An image of a restaurant worker in dark clothing walking toward diners who are eating outdoors in plastic covered tents.
A waitress delivers orders to diners seated outside under tents at an Alhambra restaurant on Nov. 17, 2020.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)
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Enjoying those parklets and sidewalk seating areas at your favorite local restaurant or bar? They'll be part of the Los Angeles landscape for at least another year, possibly three years.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday signed an emergency ordinance that, as Eater L.A. first reported, extends various COVID-19-related measures meant to help restaurants and bars.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, L.A. officials used their emergency powers to temporarily allowing dining and drinking establishments to transform sidewalks, parking lots and streets into outdoor dining areas. L.A. Al Fresco has been such a hit with restaurateurs and patrons that officials want to keep it going. In May, local officials started taking steps to make the program permanent.

Yesterday's emergency order does two big things:

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First, it extends, by another 12 months, the temporary use provisions that allowed outdoor dining to flourish. Beyond that, it allows the City Council to pass a resolution extending these provisions for an additional 24 months — 36 months in total.

The emergency order also suspends the requirement that restaurants provide a minimum number of parking spots for vehicles. This section of L.A.'s municipal code may have been written, in part, to make sure drivers who couldn't find a place to park weren't clogging streets with their cars. But parking minimums have proved to be major hassle and a significant expense for restaurant owners, especially in dense neighborhoods where space is at a premium.

The ordinance signed by Garcetti only applies in the City of Los Angeles, not the rest of L.A. County. Individual cities such as Long Beach, Pasadena and Culver City have their own regulations for outdoor dining.

For public policy wonks, this emergency order modifies Chapter I, Article 6 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, which covers temporary use approvals during fires, storms, severe earthquakes, civil disturbances or "other disaster[s] declared by the Governor." That includes our current pandemic.

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