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The Threat Facing Al Fresco Dining

A person with light-tone skin and curly hair wears a yellow hoody and stands outside a patio area with sun umbrellas
Gusto Bread owner Ana Salatino poses for a photo on her al fresco dining area on 4th Street in Long Beach.
(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
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There’s nothing quite like al fresco dining on a warm weekend afternoon in Los Angeles. The sights and sounds of the city are all around, there’s a cool breeze and the sweet smell of the good ol’ outdoors.

There’s also much more space.

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Outdoor dining could come at a cost

When the pandemic hit and upended every single facet of our lives, restaurant owners in L.A. had to come up with a solution fast in order to stay in business. It was against the rules to offer indoor dining — and people weren’t exactly feeling it anyway after being forced to socially isolate. So, owners thought of creating outdoor dining areas in designated parking lots, on sidewalks and in parking spaces in front of their eateries. The city helped with a quick and easy permitting process. And it worked. People started to gather again, eat together and support these restaurants.

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Now, all of that may go away. A new L.A. city ordinance being proposed would require these businesses to reapply for outdoor dining permits. That process could cost tens of thousands of dollars that many of the smaller, more cash-strapped places just do not have.

It’s a situation that eateries in other cities around the county have faced. My colleague Gab Chabrán profiled two businesses — a seafood place in Santa Monica and a bakery in Long Beach — that have also had to navigate similar ordinances. Each has figured out how to either fight back or find a way to deal with the hurdles.

As Gab writes, these two stories could provide a glimpse into the future of the L.A. restaurant scene if this new al fresco dining proposal goes through. Read his story to learn more.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

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(After you stop hitting snooze)

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  • With Covered California deductibles increasing more than 80% in nearly a decade, there’s no wonder why some people may be hesitant to go to the doctor. CalMatters’ Kristen Hwang considers the question of whether California officials are breaking promises made to its residents when it comes to affordable healthcare. 
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  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

Wait... one more thing

Loren Miller: A man responsible for early equal housing opportunities for African Americans

A beige two-story home (left) has a garage off a cracked driveway. A bay window is at the forefront and there's a metal awning over the front door. At tight Loren Miller wears a suit and has a neatly trimmed mustache in a black and white image.
Loren Miller's home today (left) and right Miller circa 1930s. He lived at the house on Micheltorena St. from 1940 to his death in 1967.
(Courtesy Cultural Heritage Commission and USC Library Exhibits Collection)
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It’s time for my favorite day of the week: L.A. History Day. Today, we’re going to travel to the mid-20th century to meet Loren Miller, a Black man who served many roles during the Civil Rights Movement in Los Angeles.

We’re heading to his home, which last year was approved to become a historic-cultural monument. He’s there, ready to talk to us about his life and the fact that he’s been in his place for nearly 30 years.

You see, his house is a tangible representation of his contributions towards equitable rights and equal housing opportunities for African Americans here in L.A. and all over the nation. Miller, a journalist, attorney, judge and activist, was instrumental in getting rid of racist restrictive real-estate covenants in 1948.

As an attorney, he, along with other lawyers like Thurgood Marshall, argued and won the case, Shelley v. Kraemer, striking down these covenants that banned Black people from living in “white-only” areas. It was one of the most historic civil rights cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Miller's accomplishments. Due to his civil rights work, his legacy lives on in South Central at a school named after him and a local bar association. The Loren Miller Legal Services Award is given to lawyers who are a part of the California Lawyers Association and who have demonstrated a commitment to providing legal services to those who suffer from poverty.

Read more about him and why the L.A. City Council decided to designate his home as a historic-cultural monument here.

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