West Hollywood’s Planning Commission is recommending two COVID-era policies — outdoor dining in public spaces and alcoholic beverage sales for off-site consumption — become a permanent option for WeHo’s restaurants.
In June 2020, the city created the OUTzone program which allowed commercial spaces to expand business operations outdoors in the public right-of-way (sidewalks and metered parking) and on private off-street parking lots.
The Planning Commission greenlit a zone text amendment that would allow outdoor dining spaces to operate without additional parking, regardless of square footage. Specifically, it would eliminate parking requirements for all outdoor dining areas in the public-right-of-way (sidewalks and metered parking) and on private property. Currently, the West Hollywood Municipal Code only allows up to 250 square feet of outdoor dining without requiring additional parking. For areas that are greater than 250 square feet, the Municipal Code requires 3.5 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of outdoor dining.
Prior to the vote, a lively round of discussion was kicked off by Commissioner David Gregoire.
“I’ve been on the commission for five months now and the one thing that keeps bothering me is concerns about parking. I know there’s a big push to get everyone to get rid of their cars and use bicycles, but that’s probably going to happen over many decades. I appreciate that the business community says that they’re not going to be adversely affected by removing these parking spaces. There were no major citations or no citations during the pandemic due to these OUTzones, but there was the volume of people going out to businesses and West Hollywood was significantly down during the pandemic as well. So, as this moves forward to City Council and staff continues to work on it, I think we really need to be mindful of what the cumulative impact of reducing parking minimums in many different contexts will be.”
“Personally, I cannot think of too many businesses using parking as dining that aren’t within about four blocks of a parking structure,” said Commissioner Rogelio Carvalheiro.
Public comment was limited, with only Manny Rodriguez submitting a written comment.
“When there’s no parking, customers use Ride-Hailing (formally called “Ride-Sharing”) to individually arrive at a location. That Ride-Hailing vehicle never leaves the road and contributes to traffic chaos and is detrimental to the environment. Parking is good, no parking is No Bueno,” Rodriguez wrote.
The Planning Commission also approved an amendment that would allow alcoholic beverage sales for both on- and off-site consumption in residential zoning districts with a Minor Conditional Use Permit. A California senate bill that went into effect in January expanded off-sale privileges for certain ABC licensees allowing them to sell distilled spirits, beer and/or wine for off-sale consumption (takeout via pick-up).