May 26, 2020

Los Angeles councilman asks to allow businesses to expand to sidewalks, streets

Businesses in Los Angeles may soon be able to temporarily expand into public right-of-ways, so they can operate while maintaining social distancing and help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose southernmost District 15 includes San Pedro, introduced a motion Tuesday, May 19, that would request the City Attorney to write an ordinance creating a “low-cost permit process.” That would allow for businesses to offer al fresco dining, exercise classes and other outdoor operations on nearby land and public property; the nearby land would include sidewalks, streets and parking lots.

A spokesman for Buscaino did not respond to requests for comment on when the motion would come before the City Council and whether it may pave the way for a process to permanently dedicate outdoor space for business use.

Buscaino noted in his motion that other cities “from Vilnius, Lithuana to the Bay Area” have transformed their public spaces during the pandemic to be more pedestrian-friendly.

Los Angeles, and particularly downtown San Pedro, Buscaino wrote, could benefit from pursuing a similar model as the county continues the slow process of lifting its stay-at-home order and moves toward allowing restaurants to reopen.

“As the State of California continues to slowly reopen, local governments must find creative ways to support our small businesses to retain jobs and create a new normal,” Buscaino said in a statement. “Creatively repurposing our public spaces to accommodate more uses will both protect people’s health, save jobs, and save our local restaurants.”

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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday relaxed requirements for the next phase of reopening, which would allow restaurants in most of California’s counties to once again offer in-person dining. Los Angeles County doesn’t meet those requirements, so its restaurants couldn’t open yet anyway. But Buscaino, according to a statement, believes the city of Los Angeles “is in a unique position to assist with the rebuilding of the restaurant industry” whenever they are allowed to reopen.

In Long Beach — San Pedro’s neighbor to the east, on the other side of Terminal Island — the City Council was set to discuss its own open-streets initiative on Tuesday; the possible plan is meant to get the city ready for when businesses, primarily restaurants, can open for more than just curbside pickup, delivery and takeout.

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Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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