Long Beach businesses hoping to keep their outdoor parklets up longer got some help from the City Council, which voted Tuesday night to extend a September teardown deadline into the first few days of 2023.
The council had voted in June to require parklets and other outdoor installations to be taken down by the end of September if a business was pursuing making them a permanent fixture.
Those that were deemed not feasible by the city’s traffic engineer or whose owners had not expressed interest in permanent status had to be removed in July.
A proposal by Mayor Robert Garcia could now let those businesses that are going through the application process to make their installation permanent keep their temporary structures through Jan. 2.
At one point the city had about 120 outdoor dining locations, but Garcia said that currently, the city has 19 locations that have applied for a permanent structure.
“Because of the way the permitting process goes there’s no guarantee that all 19 will be permitted,” Garcia said.
The city has already determined which locations are feasible for a permanent location and which ones would due to safety or public right of way issues. The extension would only apply to those businesses that were deemed suitable and are going through the application process.
Parklets and other outdoor eating areas located in parking lots allowed businesses to seat people during the pandemic when indoor dining was not allowed by local health orders and has continued to allow them to seat people who still prefer to eat outdoors due to their expanded capacity.
Businesses that have submitted applications include Downtown restaurants like the Breakfast Bar on Atlantic Avenue and Modica’s, but also a few locations along Broadway (Panxa Cocina and Bar Black).
At least six are located in Belmont Shore, according to city records from last month. Applicants in Belmont Shore include Open Sesame, Legends and Rance’s Chicago Pizza.
Some residents in Belmont Shore have been outspoken against the city’s efforts to extend the program and again called for a complete ban on parklets in that neighborhood because of their effects on parking and homes in the vicinity of the parklets.
“They’re simply a gift of public space to a handful of businesses, they do not serve the public good,” said Jeff Miller, a Belmont Shore resident.
Some of the locations within the coastal zone, which is the area south of Broadway for most of the city, also face another hurdle before they can be approved because they’ll have to complete a coastal permit process as required by the California Coastal Commission.
Permanent parklets are likely to look a lot different than some of the temporary structures that were put up by businesses and kept open over the past few years. They must meet specific design requirements that will improve both the aesthetics of the parklets and also the safety for patrons and pedestrians.
Applicants could have an additional year to build their installations if they’re approved by the city, but Councilmember Stacy Mungo Flanigan asked that the process be sped up and those locations found to be ineligible to have their structures removed.
“We don’t want to sit in a temporary structure for another four months until January and then potentially another 12 months after that,” Mungo Flanigan said.
The council voted unanimously to extend the program Tuesday night.