This afternoon, the Los Angeles City Planning Department released a draft ordinance to establish a permanent outdoor dining program. The draft ordinance is just the first step in a long process before it becomes law, but it’s a welcome first step for many restaurant owners, including several Larchmont restaurateurs who told us they have been have have been waiting to hear from the City before deciding what improvements to make to their dining platforms. Many were hastily built two years ago and need repairs; others want to make them more visually appealing, and there is some interest in collaborating to create a more uniform look to the platforms, thus improving the aesthetics of the street and creating more shared community space.
In May 2020, using the Mayor’s local emergency authority, the City introduced “LA Al Fresco” to allow for expanded outdoor dining activities for qualifying restaurants and other food establishment struggling through pandemic closures.
“This temporary program offered a pathway to create outdoor dining areas in the public right-of-way and on private property without requiring most of the current regulations in the Zoning Code. This served as a lifeline for those restaurants adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the related public health restrictions,” said the Planning Department in its announcement today. “The response to the Al Fresco program has been overwhelmingly positive, and over 2,500 establishments have taken advantage of the program since it was introduced. The success of the program resulted in direction from the City Council to establish a Permanent Al Fresco program (CF 20-1074) in March of this year.”
The draft Permanent Al Fresco Ordinance for outdoor dining on private property was released today for public comment. In addition, a fact sheet providing a summary, background and frequently asked questions is also available for the public’s review. Lastly, in the summer of 2022, City Planning released two surveys to gather feedback from both the general public and businesses participating in the temporary LA Al Fresco program. The participant survey results are also provided with the draft ordinance and were instrumental in providing insight into the draft.
After today’s release of the draft ordinance, the Department of City Planning will be hosting an informational webinar in early 2023 that will provide an overview of the draft proposal and will include a Q&A session. City Planning will hold a separate staff-level hearing later in the year, at which the public can provide testimony for the public record. That information will inform a staff report and recommendation to the City Planning Commission. From there, the proposed Ordinance will be considered first by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, and then by the full City Council. To sign up for updates, obtain information on the current status of the draft Ordinance, or provide feedback, please email [email protected]
We’ll be keeping an eye on the ordinance and the public process so stay tuned for updates.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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