With restaurants in Los Angeles hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of L.A. has piloted new programs to help struggling businesses adapt to a new reality. With many restaurants prohibited from serving indoors, L.A. Al Fresco allows restaurants to expand outdoor dining areas beyond their usual footprint of private patios and adjacent sidewalks. The program aims to support restaurants and protect customers by allowing for extra outdoor space for physical distancing between tables.
Restaurants that apply on the city’s website will be contacted by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) within a few days. LADOT will provide logistical support and approval for businesses looking to expand outdoor dining onto sidewalks, parking lanes, and through partial-to-full street closures. LADOT also provides barricades, umbrellas, and planters free-of-charge to establish and demarcate new outdoor dining areas. Eligible locations for expanded outdoor dining include: sidewalks, private parking lots, street parking spaces, and on the street.
The L.A. Al Fresco program was announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson at South L.A. Cafe — one of the first restaurants to receive approval for expanded outdoor dining in the parking lane.
Here’s how the program works for the various types of outdoor spaces.
Dining on the Sidewalk is defined as using the sidewalk immediately in front of a business to provide tables and chairs for dining. This option is best for businesses that do not yet have a sidewalk dining permit, but have enough space in front of their restaurant to put tables and chairs, while keeping a 6-foot-wide path on the sidewalk for people walking by.
Dining in a private parking lot or other private space is defined as using space behind the property line for dining that has not previously been permitted by the city. This option is best for businesses that have existing private parking lot space and street vendors with the parking lot owner’s permission to apply.
Dining in a Parking Space is defined as when the parking spaces immediately in front of a business are closed to cars and opened to dining. This option is best for businesses on streets with a speed limit of 25 mph or less (typically narrow streets in commercial areas). Businesses with street parking in front of their establishment and Street vendors. Submit an application here.
Dining on the Street allows for three different options: “Parking lane dining” is when the parking (curb) lane is taken for dining and does not impact the amount of travel lanes in the street; “Travel lane dining” is when the parking lane and the adjacent travel lane(s) is closed though traffic is maintained in one or both directions depending on the amount of travel lanes taken; and “Full street dining” is when the whole block between two intersections is closed to traffic and open to dining. This option is best for a group of businesses on a busy street who all want more space for dining. The applicant must be a Business Improvement District, Chamber of Commerce, Community Organization, or designated representative of a group of restaurants or group of street vendors.
According to the city’s website, more than half of all the resources and applications approved for the program will be earmarked for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) businesses or restaurants located in areas that have suffered the greatest job loss due to COVID-19 as indicated by the City Controller’s COVID-19 unemployment report..
The online application takes an average 18 minutes to complete and more than 650 temporary outdoor dining permits have been issued. Find out more on how you can apply by visiting coronavirus.lacity.org/laalfresco.