The Los Angeles Al Fresco program was given its first step towards becoming permanent by city council members.
By Cesar Padilla, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles City Council voted to extend the outdoor dining program that allowed restaurants to expand seating to public sidewalks, alleys, walkways and parking lots.
On May 29, 2020, LA City began the first of two phases of the LA Al Fresco program, which allowed restaurants to offer outdoor dining on sidewalks and private parking lots. One month later, the second phase was launched, allowing restaurants to expand dining into street lanes and parking spaces, with the help of the LA Department of Transportation.
“The program aims to help local businesses reopen while allowing customers and employees to maintain the physical distance recommended by public health officials by temporarily relaxing the rules that regulate outdoor dining,” according to a statement from the city of LA.
On Wednesday May 12, 2021, city council voted nearly unanimously to extend Al Fresco with 14 “yes” votes and one absent. There are currently over 2,500 restaurants participating in this program, according to Spectrum News 1.
“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,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti to CBS.
While following the Americans with Disabilities Act, the vote included requested assistance from the Bureau of Engineering to transform all participating restaurants into permanent sidewalk locations. This was made possible by former Councilman David Ryu, who introduced this back in August.
“[Los Angeles] has an opportunity to re-imagine the ways that we use our city streets and support our local businesses,” said Ryu to Daily News. “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.”
CicLAvia, a nonprofit that catalyzes vibrant public spaces, announced that they are aiding the program along with the help of the LADOT in order to help restaurants gain customers by transforming street corners and parking lots.
“By offering free assistance to these ‘hidden gems’ via LA Al Fresco program, CicLAvia helps these restaurants accommodate more customers so they can serve their neighborhoods safely and with greater capacity, stay open and continue to prosper,” said Romel Pascual, director of CicLAvia to MyNewsLA.
As LA Al Fresco continues to provide restaurants with support to expand dining, it is the first step for restaurants to return to pre-pandemic life.
“With this LA Al Fresco work, CicLAvia is coming full circle by providing a different type of outreach and ensuring that our return to our highly anticipated open street events will be back even stronger as we continue to expand the horizons of our LA community,” said Pascual.