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Economic, Development and Technology Committee to Discuss Funding to Support Outdoor Dining

Published on Monday, September 18, 2023 | 5:36 am

The Economic, Development and Technology Committee will vote on a $1.5 million earmark funding to support citywide outdoor dining and improvements for a five-year term.

In 2020, when restaurants began to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City created a temporary emergency on-street dining initiative and rented the necessary equipment using City funds.

“A significant portion of Pasadena’s economy is driven by the leisure/hospitality/retail sector. Jobs in this sector cannot be done by telecommuting and, as such, the sector was disproportionally hit hard by COVID-19 impacts,” according to a City staff report.

According to the report, outdoor dining has been a success, stemming losses across the vital restaurant industry and adding valuable amenities to the streetscape.

While this sector has recovered in large part, with hotel occupancy, foot traffic, and sales tax figures reaching and sometimes exceeding pre-COVID levels (not adjusted for inflation), the City’s small businesses need continued support for ongoing recovery and a still uncertain economic future. 

“The City’s emergency initiative ended in July 2022 and while the on-street dining program continues, there have been no additional City funds to support it,” according to a City staff report. 

In April 2022, in anticipation of the closing of the emergency initiative funding support, the City submitted a Community Project Funding request to Congresswoman Judy Chu to continue its support of outdoor dining and the small business community. 

The Economic Development Division received notification the request was approved in June, completed additional required forms and application materials at the request of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and received final approval in August.

The majority of funding will be used for pass-through grants and contractual activities including: 

  • Awards to businesses to install semi-permanent and permanent on-street dining structures, parklets, and parking lot dining structures. 
  • Awards to businesses for small-scale semi-permanent and permanent facade improvements. 
  • Awards to nonprofit community partners for program outreach, business assistance, and program design advisory participation. 
  • Contracts for third-party architectural and design services. 

Per the SBA, the City has up to a five-year term to expend the funds. 

Eligible businesses must be located in Pasadena and legally operating under all local, state, and federal laws and current on any and all taxes/fees/licenses owed to the City of Pasadena and do not have a current lawsuit pending against the City.

The program is solely directed at street-level, storefront businesses (including retail shops and restaurants). 

Preference will be given to locally and independently owned (not part of a national chain or franchise) businesses, businesses that demonstrate the dedication and wherewithal to remain open for a period of 12 months after receipt of the relief funds. 

Churches, schools, colleges, universities, government buildings and nonprofits are not eligible.

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