Hermosa Beach’s outdoor dining and retail program that was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue through the end of the year, city officials announced.

The Hermosa Beach City Council voted Tuesday to extend the outdoor dining and retail program, as well as the downtown lane reconfiguration program, which creates the space for businesses to expand.

A survey showed strong support for both programs, with 71% of 1,124 respondents reporting that they support continuing outdoor dining and retail permanently on dining decks and in parking spaces and lots. Sixteen percent of respondents said they supported keeping it until the end of the summer or end of the year, and only 11% opposed the program’s continuation.

The survey also found that 62% of respondents support keeping the lane reconfiguration project permanently, 12% support keeping it until the end of the summer of year, and 21% opposed the program’s continuation.

The City Council directed staff to implement the programs’ extensions and make refinements to reduce impacts on traffic and other businesses if necessary. The city also appropriated $3,000 to study traffic in the downtown area.

“COVID-19 challenged our local businesses and extending our lane reconfiguration and expanded outdoor dining and retail will help them recover as we refine our efforts and consider whether to carry them forward long-term,” said Hermosa Beach Mayor Justin Massey.

During the pandemic, the city issued more than 60 permits for temporary outdoor dining and retail expansions and waived encroachment fees and parking requirements. According to Massey, the city can’t waive fees indefinitely, as many of the decks are located on public space, and the city needs revenue from parking and other public space uses.

City staff will report to the City Council later in the year with encroachment recommendations if council members decide to expand the program past the end of 2021.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in May to explore making its “Al Fresco” dining program permanent. That vote required the Bureau of Engineering to report on recommendations on transitioning all existing al fresco participants into permanent sidewalk dining locations.

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