Garcetti Says Outdoor Dining Program to Focus on Businesses Most Affected

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced a second phase of a program to help restaurants open for on-site dining outdoors, which will focus on businesses in areas that have been affected most by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor said more than half of the next series of L.A. Al Fresco program permits will be dedicated to businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color, as well as businesses in areas where there's been high levels of job losses during the pandemic.

Garcetti was joined by Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson at South L.A. Cafe to discuss the L.A. Al Fresco Program, the first phase of which debuted in late May.

“We know these months have you tried and tested, but we are here to help you get back on your feet,'' Garcetti said, adding his grandfather grew up in South Los Angeles. “For too many decades, we haven't seen the investments we need, and L.A. Al Fresco here in South L.A., though it's for the entire city, is that opportunity to say, `What are the resources that we have and how can we better utilize them?'''

L.A. Al Fresco gives restaurant owners free permits to set up outdoor dining in parking lots and closed streets. Food trucks will also be eligible to apply for the program, although only those with licenses from the county will be eligible to apply.

“We still know that a many sidewalk vendors face a lot of barriers to operating legally in our city, like fees that are especially difficult to pay right now in the midst of a pandemic,'' Garcetti said. “We're trying to look at this through the lens of equity.''

The program temporarily suspends the requirement for businesses to apply for a permanent outdoor dining permit, Garcetti said, and the permits will be in effect for 90 days.

“This is such a difficult time in the city. We had the first major event with COVID-19, and the second major event (was the world) finally decided they'd had enough of seeing Black bodies die at the hands of police officers, and there were protests,'' Harris-Dawson said.

Joe Ward-Wallace, owner of South L.A. Cafe, said he was appreciative of the L.A. Al Fresco program and that it will enable him to keep his business going. He said when the pandemic hit, the cafe lost 70% of its business and had to furlough most of its staff.

The cafe has been garnering donations for grocery food boxes to be delivered to people who are in need.

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