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Pasadena Enforcing Governor’s Ban on Indoor Dining, Creating Alternatives to Help Restaurants

Published on Thursday, July 2, 2020 | 2:46 pm
 
A waitress takes an order from diners at El Portal, on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Photo by James Carbone

The governor’s newly mandated restrictions on indoor dining are now in effect throughout Los Angeles County. Officials in Pasadena are figuring out what enforcement of the order will look like in the city, as well as looking into what measures the city can take to aid struggling businesses.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered yesterday that all L.A. County restaurants, along with those in 18 other counties, cease indoor service. The order, issued as detected COVID-19 cases spiked throughout the state, was expected to remain in effect for at least three weeks.

“The rules and regulations that are in place to protect the health and safety of our community are of paramount importance, but we recognize the impacts that they can have on our local businesses,” city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.

Several city departments would be taking part in enforcing the governor’s order, she said. But further details regarding what type of enforcement actions will be taken were not available Thursday afternoon.

City Councilman and Chairman of the city’s Economic Development and Technology Committee said the move is positive, but much more should have been done already.

“I think we can do a better job than we are doing. I know staff is working very hard, but we need to double our collective efforts,” Gordo said.

He said he was disappointed that the city has not hired any new health inspectors since the start of the pandemic, maintaining only two to three.

City staff has relayed that additional staff members are in the process of being retrained to to inspect businesses for health order compliance.

“That’s not a sufficient answer for me. I want to understand much more clearly what the plan is to keep the public safe and to help businesses in all sectors comply,” Gordo said. “It has to be corrected. Clearly the need to protect the public is the top priority, and one way to achieve that is by assisting businesses in all sectors to comply.”

“We need to do things differently,” he said. “In my opinion, that means staffing up and using resources in a different way.”

Meanwhile, the city is also looking into ways it can help local businesses stay afloat amid the pandemic and ever-changing regulations.

“In response to the impact of COVID-19 on our restaurants, the City has developed and implemented a menu of new and streamlined processes, including an expedited sidewalk dining process, a new alley and private parking lot outdoor dining permit, expedited plan checks for restaurants and a new five-day administrative Conditional Use Permit for restaurants that wish to serve alcohol,” Derderian said.

City officials are also in the process of finalizing a process to allow for more opportunities for outdoor dining in Pasadena, she said.

Plans in the works include turning street parking spaces into parklets, which will be level with the sidewalk, and partial street closures to make room for al fresco dining.

Authorities have called for outside assistance in helping the city navigate the changing state health orders.

“To assist with these and future efforts that may be needed as a result of the ever-evolving health protocols, the City has engaged AECOM, a worldwide Planning, Engineering and strategic consulting firm,” Derderian said.

The challenge posed by the pandemic is unprecedented, and so must be the city’s response, Gordo said.

“This is a crisis,” he said. “This is the time for us to rise to the occasion. Who out there believes that in our Health Department inspection programs, the same number of inspectors pre-COVID is sufficient to guide us?”

“We’re in a unique situation to assist our community to understand and comply with the orders as they change on a daily basis,” Gordo added. Small businesses are looking for ways to survive, and they want to do it safely. And we are in a position to assist them to do that.”

Anyone wishing to report a non-compliant business can call the Citizen Service Center 626-744-7311.

The city has also set up a website to help businesses navigate the process of obtaining permits for reopening and adjusting services during the pandemic.

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