Fullerton City Council voted on March 15 to extend the temporary outdoor dining program, instituted to support Fullerton restaurants during the pandemic, until September 30. The temporary program that waved the normal permitting process for outdoor dining on private and public property, and the fees for use of public space as well as allowing some restaurants to operate on a portion of West Wilshire Ave. was slated to end on March 21.
Even before the pandemic, Fullerton has had a regular/permanent outdoor dining program. Businesses that apply by June 13 to participate in this regular program will continue operations without interruption while the normal permitting process is completed. Requests to use private and public parking areas will be evaluated for approval by City Council. Whether the closed portion of West Wilshire, known as Walk on Wilshire, continues after September 30 depends on whether enough businesses (a minimum of three) apply to fund the cost of the closure. Currently, the cost of maintaining the space has been “absorbed” by the City, according to the staff report.
The permanent outdoor dining program requires that interested businesses apply for an Encroachment Agreement or amended Conditional Use Permit, develop site plans, and pay lease fees for use of public property.
At their March 15 meeting, Council discussed and voted on three aspects of the program: outdoor dining on private property, outdoor dining on public property, and the Walk on Wilshire area.
Outdoor Dining on Private Property
Of the 64 private property sites that obtained an extension for a temporary outdoor dining permit, 23 currently have active outdoor dining areas, predominantly in private parking lots. To provide for permanent outdoor dining areas on private property, the property owner will need to obtain approval of a Conditional Use Permit from the Planning Commission in compliance with the Fullerton Municipal Code.
The proposed dining area would also need to comply with any applicable local, state, and federal standards.
Outdoor Dining on Public Property
Of the 16 temporary outdoor dining permits issued on public property, nine businesses currently operate on public property. Of these, six operate in public parking lots, two in alleys and one on a back sidewalk.
Should businesses elect to pursue standard outdoor dining permits, they will need to comply with the established pre-pandemic program guidelines including providing site plans, complying with any building and public works requirements, and paying the ongoing lease fees in addition to any application processing fees.
Walk On Wilshire Street Closure Project
The Walk on Wilshire (WOW) street closure, which closed a portion of West Wilshire Avenue from Harbor Boulevard west to approximately mid-block, allowed businesses to operate in the closed street area.
Council voted 4-1 (Jung “no”) to extend the temporary program through September 30 for those businesses that apply by June 13 for the permanent program, provided the City receives a commitment from at least three businesses. Mayor Jung said he favored re-opening Wilshire due to its current designation as the Wilshire Ave Bike Blvd.
Should enough restaurants sign up for the permanent outdoor dining program, the City will evaluate adding a temporary bike path at an initial proposed cost of $25,000. When the City closed off this section of Wilshire, they closed off a section of the Wilshire Bicycle Boulevard that was established through grant funding and the efforts of the former Bicycle Users Subcommittee. This grant funding paid to re-pave all of Wilshire Ave, including the current Walk on Wilshire area.
The Active Transportation Committee (ATC) voted at its March 9 meeting to make a recommendation on how to implement a bike lane that would provide bike access in the center of the street and dining in the outer lanes. They recommended this whether the bike path is temporary or permanent.
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