The nonprofit CicLAvia has said it will continue to work with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to help the city expand its COVID-19 Al Fresco outdoor dining program, which officials are taking steps to make permanent.
The program, which began in May 2020 to help restaurants safely serve guests during the COVID-19 pandemic, streamlines requirements and approvals across multiple city departments for outdoor dining on sidewalks, parking lots and streets.
The Los Angeles City Council voted May 12 to have reports created on the possibility of making the program permanent while following Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
CicLAvia, which is known for holding events on closed roadways in Los Angeles to allow people to bike, walk, skate and jog in pop-up public spaces, has been working with the city on the Al Fresco program since late 2020, specifically in areas that were most impacted by the pandemic, like Boyle Heights, Chinatown, the Westlake district, Pacoima and South Los Angeles.
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"CicLAvia has been utilizing its open streets planning expertise in a new way by reaching out to smaller 'mom and pop' restaurants in communities most impacted by the pandemic," said CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual.
"By offering free assistance to these 'hidden gems' via the L.A. Al Fresco program, CicLAvia helps these restaurants accommodate more customers so they can serve their neighborhoods safely and with greater capacity, stay open and continue to prosper."
Garcetti's budget proposal for the 2021-22 fiscal year — which is set to be reviewed by the City Council on Thursday — includes $2 million in grants for low-income neighborhood restaurants to create permanent areas for outdoor dining as part of the program.
"In a city whose unofficial motto is 72 and sunny, let's make al fresco dining permanent, including nearly $2 million in grants for restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to set up permanent parklets for outdoor dining,'' Garcetti said about the program.
CicLAvia is preparing to hold its open streets events again and will soon announce the route for its next event, which were stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pascual said Wednesday.
"We are looking forward to once again bringing our public space events to Angelenos through biking, walking, strolling, skating, or jogging, together creating more incredible moments and experiences," Pascual said.
"With this L.A. Al Fresco work, CicLAvia is coming full circle by providing a different type of outreach and ensuring that our return to our highly anticipated open street events will be back even stronger as we continue to expand the horizons of our L.A. community."