Sidewalk cafes are not only cute but they may also stir up economic development, attract new businesses and raise city tax revenues. Or at least that’s what Councilman Gil Cedillo hopes will happen by allowing Cypress Park and Highland Park cafes and restaurants along a two-mile stretch of Figueroa Street to expand their dining rooms out into the sidewalk without receiving any special permits.
The City Council motion introduced by Cedillo last week would allow cafes to set up tables and chairs on the sidewalk without having to go through the process of obtaining what’s called an R-Permit, which allows the placement of chairs, tables and other “private structures” on sidewalks and other public rights of way. While tables and chairs will leave less room for pedestrians, Cedillo says the neighborhood and city economy stand to benefit. Says the motion:
The implementation of the outdoor dining concept has had a positive impact on the dining customers, participating restaurants, and the City of Los Angles. An outdoor dining experience can result in a unique sense of community that helps to attract business growth in the area. Restaurants benefit by the expanded square footage and very visible image. The City can see a direct benefit from outdoor dining with possible increased tax dollars generated from the additional foot traffic.
Normally, it takes two to eight weeks to process an R-Permit. Of course, there’s no guarantee those permits will be issued and in some cases business owners might be required to canvas neighbors about taking over part of the sidewalk.
But under the Cedillo motion, which must still be reviewed and approved by the City Council, sidewalk dining would be allowed “by right” and be exempted from the R-Permit under a 12-month pilot program. If approved, the pilot program would be applied on Figueroa Street from Cypress Avenue on the south to Avenue 60 on the north.