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You Might Be Able To Drink In LA's Streets This Summer

A parklet on Spring Street in downtown L.A. (LADOT/Flickr Creative Commons)
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Angelenos will almost certainly be able to eat in the streets later this summer. Will we also be able to drink in them? Probably, but in a limited capacity.

Several cities -- including Long Beach, Pasadena and Sierra Madre -- are working to transform streets, sidewalks and parking lots into outdoor dining and recreation areas. These "open streets" proposals, which are temporary, would go into effect when L.A. County officials lift the ban on dine-in eating at restaurants.

Whenever that happens, officials will likely impose limits on how many patrons can be inside a restaurant and how far apart tables must be placed. Adding tables outdoors should help restaurants make up some of that lost revenue.

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But what if a customer wants a beer with their al fresco burger? Or a mimosa with that Sunday morning waffle? It gets trickier.

Fortunately, California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates the production, sale and distribution of booze in the state, has offered a bit of regulatory relief.


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Earlier this week, the agency issued a notice that allows dining establishments already licensed to sell alcohol to do it in areas adjacent to their business -- in the parklets, sidewalks and parking spots envisioned by "open streets" proponents.

The loosened restrictions, which would also be temporary, could require businesses to jump through several hoops.

They'll need to file an application, which costs $100. They'll need to submit a diagram of the area where they plan to serve booze. They'll need to explain what kind of barriers they'll use to demarcate this area. And they'll need to forward their application to local law enforcement.

Most crucially, these loosened restrictions only apply in counties where stay-at-home orders have been lifted. In Los Angeles County, we're a ways off from that.