Long Beach

Long Beach Has ‘Open Street' Plan for Restaurants to Welcome Back Diners

NBC Universal, Inc.

More than 50 California counties got the green light to move into the next phase of recovery, but Los Angeles County is not one of them.

Long Beach, the second largest city in the county, has a plan that would allow the city’s struggling restaurants to welcome diners back.

The idea is simple. The pandemic transformed many of the streets to roads less traveled. So, with less cars, why not make streets more accessible to recreation and restaurants?

With potted plants and sprayed painted signs, Long Beach’s famous Pine Avenue can transform into an avenue of dining.

"In certain ways, this is kind of like a free pass to experiment a little bit---how we can open up our restaurants," says Alan Pullman of Studio One Eleven.

Studio One Eleven architects are the pioneers of the city’s plan to turn parking spaces into sidewalk dining spaces.

The design firm helped visualize how several Long Beach streets and neighborhoods could look, transformed into restaurant dining patios.

"The reaction was spectacular," Pullman says. "Everyone loves seeing street life again. People are anxious to try it."

From Pine Avenue to Belmont Shore to Long Beach’s Bixby Knolls neighborhood, the plan could bring back restaurants desperate to welcome back diners.

"Restaurants, a lot of them are having a hard time--really its a capacity issue," says Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

Garcia said he's expecting the council to approve citywide plans so that struggling restaurants can open dine-out options before LA county is able to allow dining-in under Stay at Home orders.

"Restaurants are doing great with the retail and curbside, but they really need more capacity, and so this opens the opportunity for restaurants to open up right onto the street," Garcia said. "We’ve gotten a lot of interest already."

There are a lot more options for things to do in LA County. Rick Montanez reported on NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020.

Long Beach hopes to be the forefront of the concept that is already popular in Europe. Closing off streets to cars also allows more space for pedestrians and cyclists, similar to LA's slow streets initiative that launched over the weekend.

The city council votes on the open streets initiative Tuesday. If approved, the changes could be rolled out in the next week or two, the mayor said.

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