A program announced earlier this month by the City of Los Angeles allows residents to apply for neighborhood "slow streets" that provide additional space for recreation with social distancing. Now, as officials consider how to repoen the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, a similar program could be in the works for local businesses.
Motions recently introduced by City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez, Joe Buscaino, and Mike Bonin call for allowing restaurants in the City of Los Angeles to make use of the public right-of-way to expand their dining areas after reopening.
"Most restaurants' existing dining areas were not designed ina way that ensures customers can maintain at least six feet in distance from each other," reads one of the motions. "Without the ability to expand dining areas, many restaurants won't be able to serve the same number of customers as they did before the coronavirus outbreak once it is safe...to resume dine-in service."
The motion calls for the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Engineering, and the Bureau of Street Services to study the feasibility of permitting restaurants to use city sidwalks, alleys, and streets to ensure social distancing for dine-in customers.
The proposals, which will first be considered by the Council's Public Works Committee, also instruct the Bureau of Engineering to develop standard operating guidelines for the program, and requests a report on potential costs to the City of Los Angeles.
With a tentative July 4 reopening date on the horizon, local officials are now pressed to develop procredures for allowing Los Angeles businesses to resume operations while taking precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus. Long Beach-based architecture and design firm Studio One Eleven recently published recommendations for "Reopening Main Street," in the wake of COVID-19, including an expansion of parklets, curb-side pick-up zones, and - in a similar vein to Council proposal - pop-up dining areas.
The City of Long Beach has moved faster than its larger neighbor on the issue, adopting a program to allow increased space for outdoor dining at a City Council meeting on May 19.