More businesses in West Hollywood will be operating from the sidewalks (and parking lots) as the city expands measures to help them cope with bans on indoor dining and restrictions on the number of customers allowed inside retail and other spaces.
At its meeting tonight, the City Council endorsed amendments to the city’s temporary outdoor expansion program that will allow gyms to expand onto adjacent parking lots or other private property. Retailers will be able to sell their products on the sidewalks outside their stores. It also set specific operating hours for outdoor dining spots that are based on their location.
Tara Worden, business development analyst in the City Manager’s Department, told the City Council tonight that 19 restaurants have been granted permits to create temporary outdoor dining areas. Twelve other restaurants are in the process of filing applications.
It might not be obvious to passersby that outdoor dining areas at some restaurants are temporary add-ons. But others do stand out, like the area in the middle of the sidewalk in front of Rocco’s on Santa Monica Boulevard, or the dining tables spread wide in the parking lot adjacent to La Boheme, or the tables under umbrellas in front of iHop.
The original closing time for temporary outdoor dining spaces was 10 p.m. But the City Council tonight affirmed that outdoor dining areas where the surrounding property is not residential can operate from 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Those near residential areas must close by 11 p.m. Retail establishments and gyms and other fitness facilities operating outdoors are permitted to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The temporary outdoor spaces are not allowed to use amplified music.
Temporary outdoor sales permits are likely help retailers who currently face restrictions on the number of people they can permit inside a shop at. Some people are reluctant to go inside stores given that there is evidence that invisible droplets containing the COVID-19 virus will hang in the air in enclosed places longer than they will outside.
In further efforts to make it easier to do business outdoors, City Hall staff will be allowed to waive certain requirements such as providing valet parking to customers. The city also has streamlined the process for applying for the outdoor permits. An applicant must submit a site plan and a certificate of insurance. The city anticipates the applicant will get approval within a week of submitting the application. If a restaurant intends to serve alcohol with its meals it must get a temporary authorization from the state Alcohol Beverage Control authority.
Fees for an outdoor dining permit include $100 for an initial review of the application and a $12 per square foot annual fee. Alcohol-serving businesses also will have to pay another $1 per square foot per month. Non-alcohol-serving businesses will pay 50 cents per square foot per month.
On March 16, the L.A. County Department of Public Health ordered the closing of restaurants and bars to help curb the spread of COVID-19 infections. Restaurants were only allowed to offer pickup and delivery of meals. On May 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed in-door dining to resume so long as restaurants followed strict sanitation and social distancing practices. But a surge in virus infections led him to again ban indoor dining on July 1.