More Changes Coming to LA’s Al Fresco Dining Program


Los Angeles officials this week vowed to make a new permanent outdoor dining ordinance just as seamless as the temporary system that was so successful for thousands of restaurants during the pandemic. 

With emergency orders being lifted, the city set out to establish a permanent program to codify al fresco dining for in-street, curbside and expanded sidewalk service. But restaurant owners said the proposed ordinance brings with it new restrictions and an expensive application process that could cost restaurants tens of thousands of dollars per application, as well as additional measures that would further limit size and seating for outdoor areas.

SEE ALSO: Florida’s Affordable Housing Bill Is a Start But Won’t be Enough: Experts

Council members Traci Park, Paul Krekorian, John Lee and Tim McOsker on Tuesday submitted a letter to the Los Angeles City Planning Department proposing changes to the ordinance in response to raised concerns. The council members said they want to introduce a streamlined process for existing participants, acknowledge the significant investments made in creating outdoor spaces, ensure processes are not excessively expensive or challenging, and eliminate or decrease requirements for restaurants serving alcohol.

“The proposed ordinance would bring back bureaucratic obstacles that could cost local entrepreneurs their livelihood,” McOsker said. “Going forward, I will call for the city to grandfather any permitted outdoor dining in place today.”

Krekorian said the L.A. al fresco program that launched in May 2020 — which came without the typical fees and application process — was a “lifesaver for our local businesses.”

“Expanded outdoor dining has transformed many of our neighborhoods by creating more enjoyable community spaces,” Krekorian said. “Many of our restaurateurs made major investments in outdoor seating to stay in business during the pandemic, and we should not impose unnecessary costs on them as they struggle to recoup those investments.”

The City Planning Commission is expected to consider the new ordinance this spring.

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at