The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to begin steps to make its COVID-19 al fresco outdoor dining program permanent.
The program, which began in May 2020 to help restaurants safely serve guests during the COVID-19 pandemic, streamlines requirements and approvals across multiple city departments for outdoor dining on sidewalks, parking lots and streets.
On Wednesday, the City Council voted to have reports created on the possibility of making the program permanent while following Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. There were 14 yes votes and one absent.
The vote requested the Bureau of Engineering to report on recommendations on transitioning all existing al fresco participants into permanent sidewalk dining locations.
The city attorney was also requested to report on the feasibility of revising the Department of Transportation’s People St. Program to let restaurants have the exclusive use of the public right-of-way, and the Department of Building and Safety, City Planning and the Los Angeles Fire Department were instructed to draft recommendations on developing a regulatory framework for a permanent al fresco program.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget proposal for the 2021-22 fiscal year — which is currently being reviewed by the Budget and Finance Committee — includes $2 million in grants for low-income neighborhood restaurants to create permanent areas for outdoor dining as part of the program.
Garcetti signaled his support for making the program permanent during his State of the City address in April.
“In a city whose unofficial motto is 72 and sunny, let’s make al fresco dining permanent, including nearly $2 million in grants for restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to set up permanent parklets for outdoor dining,” the mayor said.
Former Councilman David Ryu, who in August introduced the motion that the council approved Wednesday, said at the time that Los Angeles “has an opportunity to re-imagine the ways that we use our city streets and support our local businesses. Now is the time to think about how we want our city to emerge from this pandemic, and this is one way we can emerge better than before.”