Santa Monica City Council Waives Outdoor Dining Fees through June 2022
Parklets and outdoor dining spaces have become common during the pandemic. Should restaurants have to pay for them?
December 22, 2021
At the urging of local restaurants and business groups, the Santa Monica City Council this week voted to waive outdoor dining permit and license fees for the next six months.
At its Tuesday night's meeting, the Council authorized the extension of fee waivers for temporary use permits for outdoor dining and retail uses, including sidewalk dining, parklets and the Promenade satellite dining through June 30, 2022.
"The outdoor dining program has been a lifesaver for our entire community during this pandemic, and we are eager to extend the program," said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. "For small businesses, workers, and residents, outdoor operations have meant businesses can stay open and employees can keep working while creating new and creative spaces for our entire community to enjoy a moment of delight and normalcy."
City officials said over 170 Santa Monica businesses have participated in the outdoor dining pilot program, which was created as part of the city's economic recovery projects in partnership with the local business community (Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., Main Street Business Improvement Association, Montana Avenue Merchants Association, Pico Improvement Organization, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and Santa Monica Travel & Tourism.)
The extension of the fee waivers will cost the city $345,000 in general funds, city staff said.
In June 2021, the Council extended these fee waivers, making these spaces available to local businesses free of charge through the end of 2021, while approving a fee schedule that authorized fees to be charged with at least 30 days' notice to businesses. All participating businesses are required to obtain a free Temporary Use Permit and operate their outdoor areas in accordance with safety requirements.
City officials said they are currently reviewing the overall outdoors pilot program to document the overall impacts and costs of maintaining Santa Monica's vastly expanded outdoor dining program which includes staff time for maintenance, safety, periodic adjustments to barricades and parking impacts.
A more permanent program, including an updated fee structure and a timeline for implementation, will be reviewed by City Council next spring, officials said.
For more information about the program, visit www.santamonica.gov/temporary-use-of-outdoor-areas.