Supervisors to look at updating outdoor dining code 

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to vote at Tuesday’s meeting on updating the ordinance for outdoor dining in unincorporated areas of the county, adding more avenues to do so while removing additional permit fees. 

The new permanent ordinance would expand on where outdoor dining can take place, adding public alleys and public streets to the areas that outdoor dining can take place. Public sidewalks were already part of the ordinance. 

“This ordinance amends Title 16 – Highways – of the Los Angeles County Code, enabling restaurants to apply for an annual encroachment permit to use the public right- of-way for outdoor dining in the unincorporated areas of the county,” reads an analysis of the ordinance provided in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. “Amending the ordinance will continue to allow restaurants that serve food to apply for permits to use the public right-of-way, including public sidewalks, public alleys, and portions of public streets, for outdoor dining facilities while removing the existing additional permit fee.” 

The original temporary guidelines were approved by the board in June 2020, allowing for restaurants to implement sidewalk dining within the county road right-of-way in unincorporated areas. Permits were set to be issued at low or zero cost. 

Multiple legal battles ensued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as state and county protocols continued to change, stopping and starting the service of outdoor dining. 

The new ordinance would see at least 5 feet of a pedestrian pathway be maintained for a permit to be issued. Permits would be issued once per year and would no longer be subject to additional fees, keeping them in the same family as other uses of public right-of-way areas. 

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 https://pw.lacounty.gov/outdoor-dining. 

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