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Committee Hears Plan to Improve Aesthetics of Outdoor Dining Areas, Charge New ‘Simplified’ Fees to Restaurateurs

Published on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 5:57 am

The City Council’s Economic Development and Technology Committee heard proposals on Tuesday relating to the city’s outdoor dining program started last year in support of restaurants struggling because of COVID-19 dining restrictions. 

The items were for informational purposes and no votes were cast.

During the meeting, city staff presented a plan to lower fees charged to restaurateurs for the program but to continue to waive them until next year, and to improve the appearance of the dining areas.

Pasadena’s existing fee structure for outdoor dining ranges from $8.80 to $16.07 per square foot per year.

According to staff, to date, restaurants have been granted outdoor dining permits at no cost. The permit fees will continue to be waived until June 30, 2022. 

Under the revised fee structure, the City would likely charge a flat rate for public sidewalk and alleyway occupancy of $7.00 per square foot year, and $9.00 per square foot per year for the public street occupancy. 

Staff is looking at charging these fees starting July 2022. 

In addition to these charges, there are miscellaneous fees related to outdoor dining which include but are not limited to public works application processing fee and fees related to tents and canopies, among others.

With the charges, the City is expecting approximately $94,350 in revenue from occupants of sidewalk and alleyways and $191,000 in revenue from public street occupants. 

According to the staff report, these factors were considered in revising the rate structure: costs related to processing applications, converting parking and travel lanes to outdoor dining, costs related to enforcement of rules, lost meter revenue and removal of traffic control equipment. 

On February 8, the City decided to purchase concrete K-Rail and TL2 sleds for its outdoor dining program as it determined it is in the best interest of the City to purchase these equipment instead of renting them. 

The City staff said barricade improvements are being considered for the outdoor dining areas. 

According to staff, staff from Planning and Community Development will prepare a more cohesive set of designs for the outdoor dining areas and they will present the proposal before the committee next month.

The Old Pasadena Management District and the Playhouse Village Association will also be proposing improvements to the concrete K-Rail barricade enclosure. Their suggestions will also be subject to the design review process, according to staff. 

Last summer, after the state forced thousands of businesses to halt nearly all indoor operations, the City allowed the use of sidewalk, alleyways, on-street and private parking lots on Colorado Boulevard in the Playhouse Village and Old Pasadena area for outdoor dining so restaurants could continue their operations throughout the pandemic.

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2 thoughts on “Committee Hears Plan to Improve Aesthetics of Outdoor Dining Areas, Charge New ‘Simplified’ Fees to Restaurateurs

  • “Subject to design review” is shorthand for a nightmare scenario in which the city is able to hold-up businesses indefinitely without posting clear and concise guidelines for dictating aesthetic. Worse is that this idea of aesthetics is not in the hands of elected officials, who would be held accountable for business-killing indecision, but instead by appointed hires with (often) little experience setting up a business and (almost always) no art school degree by which to defend decisions about aesthetics.

    Pasadena has developed a terrible reputation as a difficult city to start a new business. Look at all the empty storefronts here compared to parts of LA county that have managed to thrive during the pandemic. Keeping the same people in oversight positions that earned this city that bad-for-business reputation is an assurance that recovery takes longer here and that other communities benefit from NOT having dilettantes in charge.