Watch CBS News

On Your Side: The cost of renewing outdoor dining permits for restaurants

On Your Side: Outdoor dining permits costs
On Your Side: Outdoor dining permits costs 03:57

While Covid shut-downs may be behind us, some small businesses are still recovering from the lost revenue -- especially the restaurant industry. Now one local lawmaker is trying to make things easier for them to offer dining "al fresco." 

The City of L.A.'s Al Fresco Program is a way to keep outdoor dining thriving in this post-pandemic economy.

But restaurants along our coast could face additional financial hurdles to keep their outdoor spaces open.  Now one local lawmaker is trying to change that.

The streets may be bustling again in Venice, but the economic effects of the pandemic remain for restaurant owner Mark Van Gessel.

"We still have not seen the tourists that we've had before, and I believe it was due to Covid and the other ancillary things that happened because of Covid," said Hinano Cafe owner Mark Van Gessel.

One of the ways Van Gessel has been able to keep the doors open at the oldest bar in Venice, Hinano Cafe, was to create an outdoor dining space.

"So without outdoor dining I would have literally been shut down, and that would have caused my business to go under," said Van Gessel.

During the pandemic, more than 150 restaurants were issued outdoor dining permits in the coastal zone of Venice

L.A. City Councilwoman Traci Park, who represents Venice, says she believes many plan to extend them.

"They've already made large investments in their al fresco dining patios, and that really continues to be a lifeline that is keeping those businesses afloat," said Park.

But when their outdoor dining permits expire at the end of 2023, restaurants near the water will need to get a special Coastal Development Permit, or CDP, to continue dining outdoors.

"And for each one of those individual restaurants to get a new CDP, they're looking at approximately $16,000 in additional costs, and anywhere between six and nine months in time to secure those permits," said Park.

That's a cost Mark Van Gessel finds laughable.

"My place is a small little place. We're not doing these huge numbers, that would just not make it feasible financially," said Van Gessel.

And that's why Traci Park has introduced a motion to keep those costs down.

"My proposal is that all 154 restaurants participate in one programmatic CDP, where we set up a process where all of them are grouped together and considered and permitted in one effort," said Park.

So they would share that $16,000 cost and not have to each bear it individually?

"Yes," said Park.

Park says while the costs would be shared, environmental regulations will not be weakened.

"And we want to be very clear that we are going to continue to be sensitive to the marine environment and the usual environmental rules that govern will continue to apply," said Park.

Traci Park's motion instructs the Planning Department to prepare a report that is due next month.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.