LA plans to replace its successful outdoor dining program with rules and fees

Los Angeles is ending the city’s successful Covid-era outdoor dining Activities. City officials have proposed replacing it with a new one Ordinance That being said expensive, difficultAnd potentially disastrous for restaurants.

“The city of Los Angeles’ pandemic-inspired al fresco dining program — which saved many restaurants from closing — is going away,” Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL Report Last week. “Council members are hoping a proposed city ordinance will take its place. However, some restaurants are concerned about costly new regulations.”

In fact, that proposed ordinance would create and add new costs.”Extra red tape” Restaurants Still Struggling For (at its best) in the face of a variety of factors, including food inflation, labor shortages, high rents and minimum wages, and shrinking consumer budgets.

After indoor dining was banned or limited in many places in the early days of the Covid pandemic, many cities helped keep restaurants afloat by allowing them to build covered outdoor dining structures. Benefits of LA’s program (and others), ABC7 explained Recent reportsIt came “without the usual paperwork, bureaucracy, fees and months of applying”. a thousand Restaurants and bars in Los Angeles took advantage of the program.

While LA city planners say Program “Injection[ed] A new vibrancy and energy in our commercial corridors,” which also — very unfortunately — “resulted from the desire and direction from the City Council to establish an al fresco program beyond the temporary emergency program that will reimagine outdoor dining rules.”

that proposal reimagining Other new requirements include, “the minimum distance difference between outdoor dining and a residential area, the maximum number of parking spaces that may be displaced by outdoor dining, the hours of operation and the permitted location of outdoor dining.” One can almost feel the “new vitality and energy” evaporating.

The new regulations are also expected to include requirements that restaurants create outdoor spaces on their properties.”To reapply and go through proper channels to keep these patios open,“KCAL reported. All told, this means even small restaurants will be forced to pay thousands of dollars to keep their patios open.

restaurant, dinnerAnd Editorial Board Similarly speaking against the proposal.

Taylor Wells, a chef and restaurateur in Los Feliz, to say The LA Times Last week that if he couldn’t or couldn’t comply with the new rules, he would lose 30 seats and have to fire staff.

Christy Vega, who owns Casa Vega, where I dined last year — opted to sit indoors, despite the lovely weather. Cliff Booth Booth—told KCAL that he had already spent several thousand dollars improving his outdoor dining space, and he feared the new regulations would cost him six figures more.

“Right now, the City of LA is proposing an ordinance that will kill outdoor dining,” said Vega, a leading voice among California restaurants.

Los Angeles is not alone in turning against outdoor dining. Covid-era rules that facilitated outdoor dining have come under attack in other cities — including New York And Boston. As I did explainedMany of the charges that critics of these cities (and others) have filed against the expansion of outdoor dining — that it encourages noise, trash and vermin — don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Other cities have recognized that fact. Seattle, where I live, to choose To perpetuate the city’s highly successful outdoor dining plan. For example, walk along Ballard Avenue on any evening or weekend, and you’ll see happy customers dining At least a dozen or so restaurants line the street in front of wooden structures al fresco.

For Los Angeles restaurateurs who have already spent scarce cash during the pandemic to build expensive outdoor structures and take advantage of the outdoor-dining lifeline in the dark days of Covid, LA’s position now seems unduly cruel. The dining program was intended and helped save small, independent restaurants in particular, and it appears to be strangling many of the same businesses.

“The program that originally helped save many restaurants during the pandemic will become a financial and operational burden,” Eater L.A Report.

That would be both pointless and a shame. The outdoor dining program has been a great success. During Covid, Los Angeles, like other cities, has unnecessary “months of paperwork, bureaucracy, fees and applications” for permits to host dinners in outdoor spaces. Instead of going backwards, Los Angeles should make that change permanent.