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City Could Buy K-Rail Barriers, Investing In Continuing On-Street Dining

Finance Committee to discuss renting apparatus for three months

Published on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 2:31 pm
Image courtesy City of Pasadena

The city could take steps to purchase K-rail barriers that would allow officials to lower expenses as the outdoor dining program continues.

According to a city staff report contained in Thursday’s Finance Committee agenda, the committee will discuss spending $50,000 from the Off-Street Parking Fund and $100,000 from the Old Pasadena Parking Meter Fund to rent concrete K-rail barriers. That appropriation would allow the city to continue renting barriers through Jan. 18.

However, the city is looking to remove the expense of renting the units by buying its own barriers if on-street dining continues beyond that date.

“Currently, transportation staff is working jointly with economic development staff to submit a grant application for funds that could be used to purchase the K-rails and allow for the on-street dining program to continue for as long as desired without additional expense for barriers,” according to the report.

If the city cannot acquire grant funds, staff will return to the City Council through its ED Tech Committee.

In an effort to help local restaurants, the city implemented the first phase of its outdoor dining program on Colorado Boulevard in Playhouse Village on July 11.

The city has implemented 15 block faces of on-street dining, which allows for just under 50 restaurants to offer outdoor seating, in compliance with the state’s Stay at Home order. This funding allows for those locations to continue to operate with city-provided barriers and other traffic-control devices.

Like most small businesses, restaurants have been hit hard by the virus. First being forced to close their doors during the initial Safer At Home order, local eateries were again forced to shutter indoor operation again after making changes to reopen.

“I think some of the restaurants have been really relying on being able to use some of the public space as a matter of survival. And so we’ve been accommodating them,” said Mayor Terry Tornek. Even after restrictions are eased, restaurants may still only be allowed 25 percent indoor dining.

“For many restaurants that’s not enough to keep them afloat,” Tornek said. “So the outdoor dining process is a requirement or a dependence on outdoor dining I should say, is going to be with us for quite some time. And a big part of that is making sure that people are safe while they’re dining outdoors. K-rails are all part of that strategy”

Councilmember Victor Gordo, who is running against Tornek for the mayor’s seat in the Nov. 3 election, said the city has to be prepared for the coming winter months when the weather becomes less hospitable.

“The city’s commitment to helping businesses, including restaurants, make it through difficult times, has to be much broader,” Gordo said. “It has to include an interim plan for the coming winter days. Rain and cold will be different elements that have to be addressed and that’ll mean changing the guidelines for outdoor dining, so that restaurants and other businesses can operate in cold and even in rain.

“It will also include working with other agencies like Sacramento and the state ABC (Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) to conform to ensure that state law and ABC regulations conform with our local rules, allowing restaurants to operate outdoors.

“The city has to be nimble and flexible and responsive to all the needs of residents and businesses alike to ensure that residents feel safe and are safe and are able to operate in a manner that’s safe,” Gordo said.

Last week, restaurant owners in Los Angeles were told by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti there is no more money to continue outside dining in Los Angeles according to NBC4 News.

NBC4 reported it had uncovered correspondence by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation indicating the program has largely been put on ice.

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