On Monday, the debate over outdoor dining in Santa Monica bubbled to the surface yet again.
At the Third Street Promenade, supporters of outdoor dining in the city pleaded for the city’s COVID-19 emergency ordinance to be extended for at least five months before it expires on Sept. 30.
“The restaurants desperately need their outdoor dining because on one hand, you have people that are still in fear of COVID, and on the other hand, you have restaurants that are struggling economically to come back out of the pandemic,” said Luke Cain, a board member for Downtown Santa Monica Inc.
The outdoor-dining lovers also claimed the Santa Monica Fire Department is urging city leaders to remove the vast majority of outdoor dining space on the Promenade so they can better move their trucks through the area in need of an emergency.
In a statement, a city spokesperson noted that while the emergency ordinance is set to expire Sept. 30, a new permanent outdoor program is set to begin the next day “to offer businesses a long-term solution for outdoor dining operations recognizing how these spaces have added to placemaking in Santa Monica,”
“With the permanent program, public safety is paramount, and outdoor operations need to be consistent with all fire safety and ADA requirements,” the statement said. “Specific to the Promenade, dining in the fire lane (the roadway) inhibits the Fire Department’s ability to access businesses in the event of a fire or other emergency. The City is working with businesses that are currently operating in the roadway to transition to extended sidewalk dining options that will help ensure business operations protect patrons, the public, and the Promenade while also supporting Santa Monica’s economic recovery.”
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