WeHo extends deadline for OUTZones upgrades

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West Hollywood City Council approved an extension to the deadline for transforming the temporary outdoor dining spaces throughout the city known as OUTZones into permanent establishments.

The initiative emerged from a council meeting on March 6, 2023, where an amendment to the West Hollywood Municipal Code was ratified, setting in stone the city’s outdoor dining policy. Accompanied by the Outdoor Dining Eligibility and Design Guide, this policy directed businesses with temporary OUTZones to conform to new regulations by either removing their setups from public spaces or upgrading them by January 12, 2024.

As of now, West Hollywood is home to 28 OUTZones, with 17 located in public rights-of-way (PROW) and 11 on private properties. The adaptation to the new standards presents unique challenges, influencing their operational and physical configurations based on their locations.

To address these challenges, a multidisciplinary city team from Planning, Building & Safety, Urban Design & Architecture Studio, Business Development, and Engineering Divisions engaged with business owners through on-site meetings. These meetings were aimed at providing clarity on the new requirements and aiding businesses in aligning with the updated regulations.

During these consultations, business owners requested more time to transition to the permanent outdoor dining model, citing the need for additional time to finalize plans, submit applications for city approval, and arrange for construction work.

City staff proposed a staggered timeline for transitioning OUTZones in PROW and on private properties. For OUTZones in PROW, the new deadlines are January 12, 2024, for plan submissions, and June 1, 2024, for completing construction and transitioning to permanent outdoor dining. This timeline is designed to accommodate major events like WEHO PRIDE 2024 and the summer season. Additionally, by June 1, 2024, businesses are required to dismantle all equipment from OUTZones that are not transitioning to permanent status or have opted out.

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For OUTZones on private property, the updated deadlines are April 12, 2024, for plan submissions, and September 1, 2024, for the completion of construction. This extended timeline is due to additional requirements such as constructing new restrooms, foundations, or shade structures, necessitating more time for review and approval by the City and other agencies.

The decision to prioritize OUTZones in the PROW over those on private property is grounded in several critical factors. These include deferred maintenance issues, as these OUTZones have been operating temporarily close to city-owned or utility infrastructure needing maintenance. There’s also the need for adequate paths of travel, as temporary OUTZones were initially approved when pedestrian levels were lower, and indoor capacity was restricted. With the change in conditions, increased pedestrian safety and access have become necessary.

Another factor is the rental of concrete k-rails by the city since May 2020, used for extending sidewalk space and on-street parking. These k-rails have made access to pavement, traffic signal loops, and storm drains challenging. Lastly, the condition of the OUTZones is a concern. Many have been operational since 2020, and the materials used have deteriorated over time, raising safety concerns.

During public comment, resident Mark Lehman expressed support for the deadlines with one exception.

“I’ve been through this process. I’ve represented several restaurants already in trying to get existing OUTZones permanently approved, and it’s a process that’s taking a long time and it’s expensive. You have to hire an architect, and especially for small businesses—and I’ll consider Beaches one of them—it’s expensive. You’ve got to spend thousands of dollars on an architect because you can’t just draw plans on a piece of paper; you’ve got to have everything to scale, and then we’ve got to deal with fire department and ADA compliance and all those other issues.

“So, all I had suggested is for OUTZones that are in the public right-of-way, instead of having the January 12th deadline, keep that deadline the same as the rest. Give them till April because they need the time. And right now, we’re going into Thanksgiving and then the holidays. It’s tough for business as it is right now; things are really tough. But, you know, it’s the holidays, so getting an architect, getting people to do things, is tough.

“So my thought was, I support everything, just for the OUTZones in the public right-of-way, use the same deadlines you’ve proposed for those that are in the private sector, and give everybody another three months to get their applications in, to get the plans done, and to get in the system. The system is taking a while, and we all mean well, but you file your application, and then you start with building permits. And even if you think it’s simple, it’s not. I’ve had some of them where building permits are taking six months to get through a process. So, that’s my request.”

 
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Aska Driver
Aska Driver
1 month ago

It is really difficult for Uber drivers to pick up passengers, especially those a little inebriated, because there’s no designated pickup area. People want to get picked up at the soonest break of the parklet and the driver ends up blocking traffic and West Hollywood traffic enforcement has done absolutely nothing to give guidance as to where proper pickups can be made. I mean nobody is asking the basic questions. There are only two apps, Uber Lyft. It’s not rocket science but there seems to be no appetite to make a better mouse trap here. And from experience, about difficult… Read more »

Not a Good Look
Not a Good Look
2 months ago

2-E on 12/4/23 CC Consent Calendar Ordinance to allow “Temporary Outdoor Dining to Convert to Permanent Outdoor Dining”. Residents that would prefer their City to look like a healthy respectable one rather than a souk in the Middle East could use their voices to express their opinion. No offense whatsoever to the ME but if one goes there they expect to be shopping in a souk but not heater skelter in West Hollywood. Not a good look.🙄

Mikie
Mikie
2 months ago

Just driving or walking past Dialogue Café shows you how outzones have spiraled out of control!

Cy Husain
2 months ago

Seriously consult a credible Epidemiologist about disease protection and containment before making changes you will later regret ❗ The Coronavirus is Still here & Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings, though immunization 💉 and nonpharmaceutical containment the COVID-19 Pandemic ☣ has been slowed down considerably BUT, it’s still here and still potentially lethal.

COVID-19 Has Higher Morbidity & Mortality Rates Than Other Respiratory Viral Infections

Last edited 2 months ago by Cy Husain
ct90069
ct90069
2 months ago

The plywood is rotted out on many of these. They have already started falling through. At least mandate they get fixed up if asking for an extension.

david
david
2 months ago
Reply to  ct90069

I wrote to City Council regarding this issue and weekly I report to the West Hollywood service app about the plywood. It usually takes a week to resolve the issue but they immediately put an orange cone over the hole.
In theory all of these bump outs will be going away since they exist in the wide sidewalk setups.

Joseph Hatton
Joseph Hatton
2 months ago
Reply to  david

The orange cone gets immediately pushed aside, taken by homeless, or put somewhere else so people don’t trip on it. See front of Stache and Tom Tom.

david
david
2 months ago

The “narrow” sidewalk option A doesn’t solve anything for streets especially if the mandate is to add bike lanes to the already limited on roadways.

West Hollywood City Council needs to look at all their policies and see how they should work in tandem.

Lastly, I am not sure why OutZones aren’t eliminated. The City always had outdoor dining allowed in designated areas and restaurants now have full capacity back inside. Nobody has limited their capacity levels. Has seating/occupancy capacities changed for all these establishments now that these are permanent?

JF1
JF1
2 months ago
Reply to  david

The out zones should go and the sidewalks should go back to the pedestrians! They were meant as a temporary solution to an to a temporary problem and since the problem no longer exists they should be removed.

Last edited 2 months ago by JF1
Moving Forward
Moving Forward
2 months ago
Reply to  JF1

Exactly! Having the City and the restaurant owners spend more good money after bad is a fruitless proposition. Better spent having the City do whatever possible to augment the restaurant and business owners return to a healthy business climate.

Jasmine Boniface
Jasmine Boniface
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

Because many people actually enjoy outdoor seating!!

Also, Covid didn’t go away and isn’t a “temporary problem.” Neither have any of the many other respiratory viruses we humans pass to each other. Not sure how you’re unaware of these facts. So… plenty of those problems still exist.

Furthermore, we live in one of the most desirable weather locales in the entire nation. It actually makes perfect sense to increase outdoor dining space (even if some of *these* specific plans don’t address it correctly).

Jason
Jason
2 months ago
Reply to  david

Agreed! All of the outzones taking up the public right of way should be eliminated.

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