Parking deck dining and street reconfiguration good ‘til 2022

John Paul Ziller and his band perform Saturdays in the parking lot at Crafty Minds in downtown Hermosa Beach. Outdoor music and dining in parking areas have recently been approved by the city council. Photo by Kevin Cody

by Daniel Blackburn

Outdoor dining, widely initiated during the pandemic, will be continued locally to the end of the current year, the Hermosa Beach City Council unanimously decided Tuesday.

Related street lane reconfiguration in the downtown district on Pier Avenue and Hermosa Avenue also will be extended.

Business owners and residents weighed in on the issue in significant numbers: the council received nearly 100 written communications and public comments, most enthusiastically endorsing the plan’s extension.

Council members agreed the practice may become permanent if public support continues. According to a staff report, “The program has been important for continued business success and the vitality of commercial districts.”

Reduction in parking along the restaurant row was a concern for some, however. Business owner Laura Pena, whose Bio ReNew Lab is on Pier Avenue, said the loss of parking “is an issue that needs to be considered, and the needs  of businesses (other than restaurants) must be considered.”

The council left open the option of bringing the matter back for reconsideration sooner if needed.

A reapplication will be established for businesses “to continue the use of outdoor seating and retail areas.” Also, the council will “explore other possible fees for use of the public space.”

In other action, the council:

— Decided to postpone action on a proposed ordinance to regulate outdoor lighting after Council Member Ray Jackson pulled it from the agenda’s consent calendar. Jackson suggested the plan, which quickly attracted blowback from some residents, be heard by the city’s Planning Commission at a date to be determined before being considered by the council. The ordinance was meant to address problems related to floodlights directed toward the beach from some Strand homes. 

“The ordinance as written is overly broad,” said Jackson, “and impacts thousands of residents. I think a thorough study session would be in order.”

Jackson’s action clearly irritated Mayor Justin Massey, who alluded to “the origin of this ordinance” and called it “a fairly urgent problem, and a priority we need to get to.” He said the proposed ordinance was “a particular issue with some Strand residents with very bright lights” that illuminate “public areas.”

Massey said he wanted “to know what staff wants,” to which Community Development Director Ken Robertson replied, “Well, we do have a lot on our plate right now.”

The council voted 5-0 for the delay.

— Authorized a letter to the Hermosa Beach City School District’s Board of Education supporting the district’s “Equity Task Force.”

A draft of the letter asserts, “We support your creation of the Equity Task Force to help implement the Equity and Inclusion goals by developing actions to address racial and equity disparities in our community.” ER



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