City allows outdoor dining until 11 p.m.

File photo

City won’t charge fees for special permits during temporary ban on indoor dining

The Avalon City Council this week directed staff to allow outdoor dining until 11 p.m. under the (for now) temporary state ban on indoor restaurant dining. (For more information, see page 4.)

The city won’t charge a fee for the special permits to allow Avalon restaurants to serve food on the beach. City staff did not recommend a fee and council members indicated during the April 7 meeting that they did not support a fee at this time.

The shift came suddenly on July 1 as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of the new pandemic-related restrictions sent the California food service industry scrambling to change the way they do business just as the Fourth of July weekend was approaching.

The prohibition on indoor dining is currently scheduled to last until July 23.

City Manager Denise Radde told the council that staff mobilized quickly to allow local restaurants to dine outdoors during the weekend. She said there was no time for a special council meeting. She apologized to the council and the public.

According to her presentation to the council, the guidelines for allowing outdoor dining will include:

• A special use permit from the city

• Confirmation that a business is adhering to Los Angeles County Public Health Department and California Alcoholic Beverage Control Department guidelines

• All restaurants would be responsible for cleaning trash and putting it in commercial trash containers

• The Fire Department will inspect approved businesses

“I want to stress that this is a temporary solution,” she said. “Temporary.”

Radde indicated there was increased demand for the available spaces, which limited the number of tables available to each restaurant.

Mayor Anni Marshall said the city would need signage to advise people of when to leave the beach. She pointed out there needed to be a balance between the people who want to eat on the beach and the people who want to enjoy the beach without dining.

Council member Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy suggested cordoning off part of a street to allow for outdoor dining. “I have a concern with a lengthy delivery from a restaurant to a beach,” she said.

Cassidy referred to pocket parks.

Councilmember Michael Ponce raised concerns about emergency vehicle access.

Capt. John Hocking, Avalon Sheriff’s Station commander, and Avalon Fire Chief Mike Krug had the same concern.

Krug said he couldn’t support putting tables and chairs on Crescent Avenue. He said between tables, chairs and pedestrians, the Fire Department would lose emergency access.

Later in the meeting Hocking said the Sheriff’s Department’s only concern was with emergency vehicle access.

Council member Lisa Lavelle was concerned about access to public restrooms. She also said locations and times for dining tables needed to be fully signed.

Cassidy said she was happy to push the time for outdoor dining to 11 p.m. (The original staff proposal had been to 10 p.m.)

Cassidy said under no circumstances was she in favor of charging restaurants a fee for using the beach during this emergency.

Finance Director Matthew Baker said bars and restaurants were the largest sales tax producers in town.

City allows outdoor dining until 11 p.m.