Long Beach Council to consider making street restaurant parklets permanent | The business

Long Beach Council to consider making street restaurant parklets permanent |  The business

But the program has faced some criticism. An array of local groups, including the Hospitality Coalition, the Long Beach Restaurant Association and the Belmont Shore Parking and News Improvement Area Advisory Commission, have also called on Long Beach to make the Open Streets program permanent. “We are losing all the parking spaces that were once along the curb,” resident Ann Cantrell said during a September City Council meeting. “We are losing, in some cases, a lane of traffic in Belmont Shore. These parklets extending out into the street make driving very hazardous. You’re driving on a cross-street, and you cannot see the oncoming traffic because the restaurants are extending out into the streets.

“It’s just been such a big difference for us financially,” he said last year. “We’re surviving because of this; it’s bringing that additional income since we can’t do inside dining. And the cool thing is the guests love it.” Varouj Shekerdemian, co-owner of R Bar in downtown Long Beach, turned five former parking spaces into the restaurant’s outdoor patio — complete with televisions and 15 tables — which became R Bar’s salvation during the public health crisis.

Indoor dining has since resumed, though restaurants must still limit capacity. The program launched last summer as a way to help businesses that were struggling because of coronavirus-induced restrictions on indoor dining and shopping. Many business owners have since said the initiative has helped their shops and restaurants survive the pandemic.

Garcia, meanwhile, wrote in his proposal that while making the program permanent has widespread support, the process should still include input from the residents and business owners in impacted neighborhoods. “Such (a) plan should include community outreach to residents, News Improvement Districts and other stakeholders,” Garcia wrote, “and create options for both extensions and permanent parklet structures.” “For those that might be transitioned to more permanent sites,” she said, “those are ones where we’ll take a very hard look at parking and other types of impacts to make sure we mitigate those.”

It’s a sticking point that Councilwoman Suzie Price, whose Third District includes Belmont Shore, acknowledged during that same meeting. She said the city should study potential neighborhood impacts before making any of the current parklets or business expansions permanent. “I am in favor of helping the restaurants and the businesses,” Cantrell said, “but I don’t think this is the way to do it.”

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