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City Committee Wants Guidelines That Would Help Restaurants Finalized

Published on Thursday, May 28, 2020 | 2:16 pm
Councilmember Victor Gordo is Chair of the City’s Economic Development and Technology Committee. He is pictured at a March 16, 2020 meeting with restaurateurs immediately after the City ordered all local restaurants to close their dining rooms due to the pandemic. Photo by Kevin Kenney

At its meeting on Thursday, the city’s Economic Development and Technology Committee (EDTECH) called on staff to clarify and improve some guidelines aimed at helping the city’s ailing restaurants once they are allowed to do business.

According to guidelines released Wednesday night the city would temporarily suspend public hearings and public noticing required for sidewalk dining.

Municipal codes would also be suspended that prohibit dining in parking lots.

The city would also suspend several fees, including fees related to sidewalk dining, the city’s business license tax, banners/temporary sign permit, fire inspections, food sanitation inspections and permits for restaurants, environmental Health plan check and inspection fees for restaurants and the zoning parking credit program fee in Old Pasadena and South Lake.

Last week, committee members encouraged the streamlining of any permitting process associated with any reopening, including alcohol Conditional Use Permits and signage.

“I think opening up is going to be scary,” said former restaurant owner Robin Salzer. “I know some of the council members are, are strongly supporting closing down some of the streets that I proposed, like Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena, South Lake. When you’re going to cut out 50 percent of the inside dining seats, you have to compensate for that loss with seats in another manner. This is an unprecedented tragedy and I really think you’re going to see restaurants look different when they open up, but they do have to open up. And the longer this progresses, the harder it will be to open up.”

It will cost the city about $140,000 a month to close streets for local restaurants. EDTECH called for the process to be clarified.

Pasadena restaurants have suffered devastating financial losses after “Safer at Home” order resulted in closed dining rooms. For some, income has dropped by 90 percent, propped up only by curbside and delivery food service, according to published reports.

Restaurants, large gatherings and schools are just about the last items that Gov. Gavin Newsom has not issued reopening guidelines on.

Since Monday, Newsom has issued guidelines for reopening churches and retail businesses. Newsom also laid the groundwork for hair and nail salons and barbers, but so far those businesses are still prohibited from operating in Pasadena.

City officials held a virtual lesson with salon owners on Wednesday.

Guidelines for reopening gyms are expected next week.

Meanwhile, California became the fourth state in the nation with 100,000 coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

Last week state officials denied the city a variance that would have allowed city officials to open the city at their own pace, instead of remaining on the county schedule.

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