Arrivederci to L.A.’s Pandemic-Era Al Fresco Dining?

A proposal from Los Angeles City Planning seeks to reintroduce restrictions and fees to the program that gave the option of eating outside at restaurants
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Add Los Angeles’s Al Fresco program as a possible casualty of COVID-19 emergency measures being phased out of existence.

The program launched in 2020 at the height of the pandemic to allow restaurants to open or expand outdoor dining areas temporarily. minus the usual time-consuming applications, fees, and other oversight by the city.

Now, a proposal from Los Angeles City Planning seeks to reintroduce restrictions and fees to the program, which could cost restaurants tens of thousands of dollars to comply and cause some to close their doors.

“This is a huge money grab for the city,” Christy Vega, owner of Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks, told KABC. “I feel the city is penalizing restaurants.”

The department’s Yeghig Keshishian said in a statement: “The original intent behind L.A. Al Fresco was to provide restaurant operators the ability to temporarily keep their doors open during the height of the pandemic . . . Now that those emergency orders have been lifted, the city must codify this program to preserve the original intent.”

Planning is expected to vote on the measure this spring before it is brought before the City Council.

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