County approves updated outdoor dining ordinance 

Share on facebook
Share
Share on twitter
Tweet
Share on email
Email

Restaurants in unincorporated areas can now operate along public sidewalks, streets, alleys so long as public right-of-way is not impeded 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the updated outdoor dining ordinance for unincorporated areas of the county at Tuesday’s meeting, allowing for a broader range of businesses to use public right-of-way areas for dining purposes. 

The vote was taken as part of the board’s consent calendar. There was no discussion on the issue. 

Along with sidewalks, public alleys and streets can now be used for outdoor dining purposes so long as there is at least 5 feet of a pedestrian pathway being maintained. The new ordinance also removes additional permit fees aside from the once-per-year application or reapplication fees, keeping these permits in the same family as other uses of public right-of-way areas. 

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District, in an email via her communications director, Helen Chavez, said businesses are still struggling after the COVID-19 pandemic and, hopefully, the outdoor dining ordinance will help them continue to recover. 

“Outdoor dining has been an invaluable tool for restaurants and small businesses countywide,” Barger said in the email. “I’m hopeful this revised ordinance will support the vitality and needs of business owners who are continuing to struggle during these tough economic times. It’s important for our county to continue refining and implementing policies that both enhance the quality of our communities and cultivate strong local economies.” 

The updated ordinance is similar to how the city of Los Angeles has implemented outdoor dining via its L.A. Al Fresco program, approved as a permanent fixture by the L.A. City Council in December and awaiting Mayor Karen Bass’ signature to become law. 

The city of Santa Clarita has outdoor dining in public right-of-way areas only in Old Town Newhall on Main Street, Lyons Avenue and Railroad Avenue. 

There are currently no plans to expand outdoor dining in Santa Clarita, according to Patrick Leclair, planning manager for the city, though he did say that the program has been beneficial. 

“Outdoor dining has been a great success in Old Town Newhall,” he said. 

All three ordinances prohibit excluding pedestrians from public sidewalks or streets. 

The county ordinance defines outdoor dining as “use of an outside area that is located adjacent to a restaurant establishment for the same eating and drinking activities that occur within the establishment.” Restaurants must have all other permits to operate before applying for an outdoor dining permit. 

Outdoor dining areas must be located adjacent to a restaurant and must comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Live entertainment and amplified music are prohibited. 

The county held multiple listening sessions throughout 2023, asking for feedback on the new ordinance. One person questioned the safety of putting tables on public streets, with the county responding by saying “we will only allow parklets on streets with speed limits of 25 mph or lower” and “recognized” Caltrans traffic safety barriers must be displayed.  

Another person questioned where these outdoor dining areas can be set up and the “eyesores” that they can be, including when they have “20 umbrellas up and down sidewalks.” The county responded by saying that all dining areas must adhere to “safety measures, ADA access, and county codes” and that umbrellas must have a minimum of a 7-foot vertical clearance when open and “not overhang the pedestrian access route.” 

For more information on outdoor dining in L.A. County, visit pw.lacounty.gov/outdoor-dining. For more information on outdoor dining in Santa Clarita, visit tinyurl.com/595fzxhe. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS