Retailers, Gyms and More Restaurants Will Be Taking to the Sidewalks (or Parking Lots)

An outdoor dining area outside of IHOP on Santa Monica Boulevard.

More businesses in West Hollywood will be operating from the sidewalks (and parking lots) as the city expands measures to help them cope with bans on indoor dining and restrictions on the number of customers allowed inside retail and other spaces.

At its meeting tonight, the City Council endorsed amendments to the city’s temporary outdoor expansion program that will allow gyms to expand onto adjacent parking lots or other private property. Retailers will be able to sell their products on the sidewalks outside their stores. It also set specific operating hours for outdoor dining spots that are based on their location.

Tara Worden, business development analyst in the City Manager’s Department, told the City Council tonight that 19 restaurants have been granted permits to create temporary outdoor dining areas. Twelve other restaurants are in the process of filing applications.

It might not be obvious to passersby that outdoor dining areas at some restaurants are temporary add-ons. But others do stand out, like the area in the middle of the sidewalk in front of Rocco’s on Santa Monica Boulevard, or the dining tables spread wide in the parking lot adjacent to La Boheme, or the tables under umbrellas in front of iHop.

The original closing time for temporary outdoor dining spaces was 10 p.m. But the City Council tonight affirmed that outdoor dining areas where the surrounding property is not residential can operate from 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Those near residential areas must close by 11 p.m. Retail establishments and gyms and other fitness facilities operating outdoors are permitted to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The temporary outdoor spaces are not allowed to use amplified music.

Temporary outdoor sales permits are likely help retailers who currently face restrictions on the number of people they can permit inside a shop at. Some people are reluctant to go inside stores given that there is evidence that invisible droplets containing the COVID-19 virus will hang in the air in enclosed places longer than they will outside.

Rocco’s bar and restaurant has installed a sidewalk dining area to adhere to COVID-19 distancing rules (Photo courtesy of Marco Colantonio)

In further efforts to make it easier to do business outdoors, City Hall staff will be allowed to waive certain requirements such as providing valet parking to customers. The city also has streamlined the process for applying for the outdoor permits. An applicant must submit a site plan and a certificate of insurance. The city anticipates the applicant will get approval within a week of submitting the application. If a restaurant intends to serve alcohol with its meals it must get a temporary authorization from the state Alcohol Beverage Control authority.

Fees for an outdoor dining permit include $100 for an initial review of the application and a $12 per square foot annual fee. Alcohol-serving businesses also will have to pay another $1 per square foot per month. Non-alcohol-serving businesses will pay 50 cents per square foot per month.

On March 16, the L.A. County Department of Public Health ordered the closing of restaurants and bars to help curb the spread of COVID-19 infections. Restaurants were only allowed to offer pickup and delivery of meals. On May 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed in-door dining to resume so long as restaurants followed strict sanitation and social distancing practices. But a surge in virus infections led him to again ban indoor dining on July 1.

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Michael Grace
Michael Grace
25 days ago

The Fees! This greedy cabal of overpaid bureaucrats and politicians instituting more fees is one reason to avoid doing business in West Hollywood or California for that matter.

Alex
Alex
25 days ago

Great idea. Now close a lane of traffic each way so pedestrians will still have a place to walk!

Cool Guy 420
Cool Guy 420
26 days ago

People who think that even measures like these are going to stop the pandemic are delusional. What’s needed is the one thing our political system cannot do: provide no-strings-attached payments to everyone to stay home and cancel rent and mortgage payments. Nothing else will stop this pandemic.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
25 days ago
Reply to  Cool Guy 420

no. we need a vaccine or reach herd immunity. .03% of the population is currently infected ( a very small amount of people). even less are dying.

Joe
Joe
26 days ago

I think that this is necessary and I’m glad that the city is finally moving ahead with allowing this. I don’t agree with the fees. This should be free for the restaurant owners who have been through so much and have lost money and still had to pay rent. I don’t think that the city should be taking fees and city hall should have to take a cut just like the rest of us have had to.

Last edited 26 days ago by Joe
Sonny
25 days ago
Reply to  Joe

We’ve had pandemics before 1957, 1917-1918, 19681969, 1793, 1889-1890, 2009. and everybody back theen copped with a lot less. Some of these pandemics were worse than this one. There was none of this silly talk about free this and that.

Sonny
24 days ago
Reply to  Sonny

Remember NOTHING is free-all paid with OUR tax dollar, and so called fees. . California is one of the worse tax states, and run into the ground to by the current leadership. No wonder people are flocking out of this state.

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