Outdoor dining spaces are set to be in place for at least one more year after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a new ordinance extending COVID-19 measures for bars and restaurants.
The emergency ordinance, expected to be codified within the next two weeks, extends the City’s “Al Fresco” program which allows dining areas to expand into parklets, sidewalks, parking lots and other areas near businesses.
After 12 months, the City Council has the option to extend the program for up to two more years, according to the ordinance.
The order also suspends the previous requirement that restaurants provide a minimum number of parking spots for vehicles taken up by the expanded dining area.
L.A. Al Fresco aims to help local businesses reopen safely, and allow customers and employees to maintain physical distancing by temporarily relaxing the rules that regulate outdoor dining.
On May 29, 2020, Garcetti launched the first phase of L.A. Al Fresco to support outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, in coordination with the L.A. County Department of Public Health allowing dine-in service at restaurants.
Permits through the program were previously expected to only be valid through Sept. 1, 2021.
This action comes at the heels of a similar extension by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month.
The supervisors called upon County staff to establish permanent guidelines for expanded outdoor dining spaces in sidewalks, alleys and parking facilities.
“We should make every effort to ensure this program becomes a permanent option for eateries throughout the region,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “This is a valuable resource for the restaurant and hospitality industry, which was devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 closures.”
City Of Burbank Extends Outdoor Dining Changes, Commercial Eviction Ordinance
The Burbank City Council approved the extension last week of outdoor dining changes and a commercial eviction ordinance which were enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outdoor dining ordinance is expected to allow restaurants to continue to expanded tables in private parking lots until Dec. 31, unless extended again, according to the City.
Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed County staff to explore options to make similar dining expansions permanent.
Burbank officials said the “devastating economic impacts” of the Safer at Home order are still being felt, citing a loss in jobs across L.A. County.
Many of the jobs lost were in the hospitality industry, however, in the past several months some of these positions are coming back.
“As the pandemic fades, the negative economic impacts will continue,” the dining ordinance said. “As such, the City should consider the welfare of its businesses while protecting the health and wellness of its citizens.”
In addition to the dining expansion, the Burbank City Council also extended the local commercial eviction moratorium until Sept. 30.
The commercial eviction ordinance for commercial tenants does not forgive the payment of rent, but rather acknowledges a commercial tenant is still obligated to pay any missed rent as deferred payments.
Any deferred rent will be due six months after the end of the expiration of the Ordinance in September, unless extended again, according to the City.
This means all deferred rent would be due on March 30, 2022. Additionally, the property owner may not charge or collect interest, late fees or other penalties that could accrue on unpaid rent through the end of the six-month grace period.
Residential evictions continue to fall under Assembly Bill 832, which increases the value of the reimbursement the state’s emergency rental assistance program.
The City Council continues to encourage commercial tenants to pay any portion of the rent they can afford along with speaking with landlords to arrange a repayment plan.
Tinhorn Flats Evicted From Burbank Property After Repeated Violations
Tinhorn Flats, a Burbank bar that repeatedly deified orders to close during the pandemic, has been evicted from its Magnolia Park building.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department turned over possession of the Tinhorn Flats’ location to the property owner, Isabelle Lepejian, as the last step in the eviction process she initiated against the establishment, according to the City of Burbank.
The eviction proceeding is a separate legal action from the recent temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction issued by the Los Angeles County Superior Court in the City’s civil suit against Tinhorn Flats for continuing to operate after revocation of its public health permit and Conditional Use Permit.
The permanent permit was revoked by the Burbank City Council on Feb. 22, citing Tinhorn Flats’ “flagrant disregard for life safety and violations” of the Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders, which endangered the public health, safety and welfare, along with creating a public nuisance, according to the City.
In March, the building was “red-tagged” as part of multiple attempts to prevent the establishment from operating after COVID-19 violations.
Tinhorn Flats co-owner, Lucas Lepejian, 20, was later arrested after removing sandbags placed by the City of Burbank in front of the establishment to prevent anyone from entering, due to the unsafe conditions, according to the Burbank Police Department (BPD).
Isabelle Lepejian is the mother of Lucas and ex-wife of Baret Lepejian, who is the other co-owner of the establishment.
The Tinhorn Flats owners said they are raising money for a legal defense fund to reopen the restaurant.
“We will not comply with tyrannical rules and closures,” the owners said.
Outdoor Dining Expansion Closer To Becoming Permanent In Los Angeles County
Outdoor dining expansions in Los Angeles County are closer to becoming permanent after the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to establish new guidelines and support state legislation.
The motion, co-sponsored by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn, calls upon staff to establish permanent Countywide guidelines for expanded outdoor dining spaces in sidewalks, alleys and parking facilities.
“We should make every effort to ensure this program becomes a permanent option for eateries throughout the region,” Barger said. “This is a valuable resource for the restaurant and hospitality industry, which was devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 closures.”
The supervisors also requested staff to develop a plan to transition all temporary outdoor dining participants into the permanent outdoor dining program, including assisting the
restaurant owners with identifying suitable locations.
“Outdoor dining should be one of the things we hold on to after the pandemic is over,” Hahn said. “Restaurants have appreciated it, diners have embraced it, and we have the beautiful weather to make it enjoyable all year long.”
In a separate motion, Barger and Hahn instructed County officials to support two bills aimed at streamlining outdoor operations for restaurants.
Senate Bill 314 would help streamline alcohol sales by allowing current licensees under Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) emergency relief order a grace period of one year after the emergency order is lifted to apply for a permanent expansion of their license.
This bill would also allow bars and restaurants to share commercial space with other bars and restaurants, or with non-alcohol-serving businesses, by permitting the use of a shared location within a single licensed building, according to the motion.
Assembly Bill 61 is expected to assist restaurants in continuing to expand their outdoor dining options.
One of the key features of this bill would be to temporarily waive certain requirements and allow restaurants to utilize their own parking spaces for outdoor dining, as well as extending relief from certain ABC requirements. Specifically, this bill would provide ABC with the flexibility to make temporary changes to existing alcohol licenses and develop a policy for third-party delivery of alcohol, according to the County.
“Restaurants are a vital part of every community. Sharing a meal gives people a chance to get together and build stronger relationships,” the motion reads. “After over a year of displacement from normal life, we as a county should support restaurants in order to help rebuild our personal connections.”
To read the full motions, visit here.