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Restaurants Can Use Sidewalks, Parking Spaces for Outdoor Dining As Part of LA Alfresco Initiative

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Restaurants can apply to take part in the new LA Alfresco initiative as soon as they reopen, says Mayor Garcetti

Businesses Begin Reopening In Illinois
Sidewalk dining
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

At his evening press conference tonight, Los Angles mayor Eric Garcetti announced LA Alfresco, a broad new dining initiative that will allow restaurants to immediately turn public spaces like sidewalks and parking lots into outdoor dining areas. The program is subject to approval first — meaning owners shouldn’t simply drag tables outside this weekend until they’ve received the go-ahead from the city — but Garcetti did say that “eligible restaurants will immediately receive approval.”

A application information, ongoing reopening protocols, and a frequently asked questions page can be found on the city government website here.

Garcetti also echoed the earlier state and county news surrounding the immediate reopening of restaurant dining rooms in greater Los Angeles County. Restaurants can reopen as soon as tonight, as long as they adhere to a broad spectrum of health and safety guidelines as set out by the city, and keep their dining rooms to 60 percent capacity or less.

“To be clear,” Garcetti said, “businesses are not mandated to open. If you’re a business, take the time to get it right.”

As for the LA Alfresco initiative, Garcetti said that the new outdoor dining variance will be “no cost” to restaurants, and that it will begin to be implemented immediately. “I know it’s hard for restaurants to make a profit at reduced capacity,” Garcetti said, adding that he hoped the expansion into outdoor spaces would help to bring more diners back in a meaningful, but safe, way. “It’s clear today that we are talking about taking steps forward.”

The move also aligns with language from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board, which has previously said that it would allow the outside consumption of alcohol on sidewalks and in parking lots. Los Angeles County sister city Pasadena has also announced its own plans to allow sidewalk and parking lot dining, though that city — with its own health department has not officially reopened restaurants as of today.

“I know that for some we can’t go too fast with reopening,” Garcetti also said at his press conference this evening. “For some, we can’t go too slow... At its heart, this is about saving lives and livelihoods.”