The City of Los Angeles announced that it has extended its “L.A. Al Fresco” program until the end of 2020. The program was designed to help restaurants reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering a streamlined permitting program to turn sidewalks, parking lots, and other spaces into outdoor dining areas.
Mayor Garcetti announced that 1,486 restaurants have received Al Fresco permits so far, including many small businesses. The most recent stage of the Al Fresco program, which began on June 26, 2020, has directed 55% of program resources to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) businesses or located in areas that have experienced disproportionate job loss due to COVID-19.
LA City Council Member David Ryu has put forward a motion for the City Council to make the Al Fresco program permanent, even after the pandemic has lifted. In advocating for a permanent Al Fresco program, Ryu noted: “[t]he LA Al Fresco Program, which has received tremendous feedback from restaurants, diners and restaurant adjacent neighborhoods, looks to support the heavily impacted industry by allowing restaurants to continue to operate in a safe, physically distanced setting. Additionally, in many instances, outdoor dining has provided additional dining space for smaller, family-owned restaurants, while taking advantage of Southern California’s climate and preserving the unique character of neighborhoods with smaller shops and restaurants.”