Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Al Fresco Dining Ordinance (for Private Property) Takes Another Step Forward

Back in early May, after months of intense discussions and public hearings, the City Planning Commission approved and forwarded to the City Council a draft of a new Al Fresco Dining ordinance that would help restaurants that established temporary outdoor dining spaces on their private patios and parking lots during the pandemic make those spaces permanent, with minimal cost and effort.

But the CPC sent the draft with one key recommendation:  to further investigate whether or not audio speakers and ambient music should be allowed in al fresco dining spaces adjacent to residential properties.  This was a major point of contention during public hearings on the proposed Al Fresco ordinance, and although the draft passed with its original language prohibiting any sort of music in outdoor dining spaces near homes, the Planning Commissioners, at the behest of many restaurant owners, asked the City Council to investigate whether or not some kind of compromise could be reached on this particular point.

Since then, the Department of City Planning has been researching the potential effects of ambient music in outdoor dining spaces on adjacent residential areas, and its report was issued on May 26.  Yesterday, City Planner Bonnie Kim presented a summary of the report to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, saying that the department’s research concluded that if ambient music is kept within the noise limits already enshrined in the Los Angeles Municipal Code, it could be allowed near residences until perhaps 11 p.m.

After Kim’s report, PLUM Committee member Monica Rodriguez expressed concerns about enforcement, saying having to depend on citations from LAPD (the department charged with enforcing local noise limits) when neighbors complain about excessive noise would not be ideal.  After a brief discussion, though, Rodriguez proposed amending the motion to allow ambient music in outdoor dining spaces on private property until 10:30 instead of 11:00 p.m. from Sunday-Thursday. And committee chair Marqueece Harris-Dawson offered another friendly amendment, asking that the LA Department of Building and Safety create a new hotline specifically for noise complaints related to restaurants’ outdoor dining spaces, which would be posted with the al fresco permit information at every restaurant that has such a permit.  The hotline would be used to both respond to restaurant noise complaints, and to tally and record those complaints for future reference.

With no further discussion, the committed voted unanimously to amend the proposed Al Fresco Ordinance to allow ambient music in outdoor dining spaces, with the stipulations that it follow existing ambient noise regulations, end by 10:30 p.m. from Sunday-Thursday in areas near residences, and that LADBS create a dedicated hotline for restaurant noise complaints in those areas.

Next Steps

The proposed Al Fresco Dining Ordinance, to permit outdoor dining areas on restaurants’ private property, will now move – with yesterday’s amendments – to the full City Council for its final approval.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering is currently working on a similar ordinance for al fresco dining spaces on public sidewalks (such as those maintained by most of our Larchmont Blvd. restaurants), and the Department of Transportation is working on rules for al fresco spaces in public streets (which also includes many of our Larchmont restaurants).  Last month, city representatives at the CPC hearings on the Al Fresco ordinance for private property said these two companion draft ordinances should be ready sometime this summer.

And finally, City Council Member Traci Park yesterday introduced a motion asking the City to study and report back in 60 days the issues involved in permanently legalizing al fresco dining spaces in areas subject to special Coastal Development rules.  This one won’t affect our Larchmont or Greater Wilshire-area restaurants, but will help complete the overall set of comprehensive new al fresco dining policies.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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  1. I say ban all music in restaurants that do not provide entertainment. It’s really annoying to sit down and have music blaring so loud you cannot converse. I love Louise’s but the music inside is insanely loud. Other restaurants have the same problem. When we go to a restaurant we want to converse, not be drowned out and have to shout to be heard because of someone’s music.


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