LA city officials consider making outdoor dining program permanent

The future of outdoor dining could change in the City of Los Angeles. The L.A. City Council will consider extending its Al Fresco dining program.

Through the L.A. Al Fresco program launched last spring, eligible restaurants and bars can apply to expand dining areas into the street, sidewalk, and private parking lots adjacent to the applicant’s business. The City may provide planters, barricades, and umbrellas for outdoor dining businesses to use in newly permitted spaces.  

"It doesn’t bother me as long as it’s managed properly," said downtown LA resident Fernando Alsorado.  

In order to support businesses most in need, 55% of all resources and applications approved for the program were earmarked for minority business owners located in areas that have suffered the greatest job loss due to COVID-19.

Many restaurants have built outdoor structures to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.  That soon may be coming to an end as the statewide health emergency is expected to be lifted on June 15.

"Summer is coming, and they do it in Chicago when it’s not cold so I think it should stay," said Downtown resident Patrick Saldaña.

Under the least restrictive yellow tier of the state’s reopening plan, restaurants are able to seat customers inside at 50% capacity while bars are limited to 25% capacity.  

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On Wednesday, The L.A. City Council will ask the City Attorney, the Department of Transportation, the Departments of Building and Safety, and the Los Angeles Fire Department to issue reports in 60 days on the feasibility of making the program permanent.  

"Personally it affects me as a bike rider," said resident Enrique Martinez.   "Usually there’s a lot of people walking back and forth, and the street becomes congested," Martinez added.  

More details on the program and application for L.A. Al Fresco is available online