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Dining Decks Extended by Manhattan Beach City Council

Dec 22, 2021 06:42AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The outdoor dining deck at Slay Steak and Fish House

Temporary outdoor dining decks in Manhattan Beach have been given a new lease on life, as the Manhattan Beach City Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday night to allow restaurants to keep the decks beyond January 3. 

The agreement will allow restaurants to keep the temporary dining decks while the state of California remains in a declared state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Councilmembers also voted to raise the fee charged to restaurants to $3 per square foot per month for use of the public right-of-way, up from $1 per square foot per month.

The move followed an outpouring of public sentiment in favor of the decks, after the December 7 City Council meeting in which the council had reaffirmed its earlier decision to shut down the temporary decks after January 3. 

Since that meeting, a restaurant-led effort called Outdoor Dining Manhattan Beach has garnered support from more than 3,200 community members.

Yet City Council members emphasized that their decision to extend the dining decks was based on the threat of the new, highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19, not on community emails or the social media campaigns of Outdoor Dining Manhattan Beach. 

Councilmembers also stressed that they have worked collaboratively with downtown business owners since the start of the pandemic to support and expand downtown dining options. Council members spoke of the goal of developing long-term outdoor dining solutions.

"I think it‘s sad that what started out as a collaborative effort has now turned more adversarial," said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Napolitano.

Some councilmembers blamed "the media" for riling up community members after the December 7 meeting and for characterizing the December 7 decision as a single rejection of outdoor dining. 

DigMB has had regular and ongoing coverage of the outdoor dining issue throughout the pandemic, including the June 2020 launch of the temporary dining decks. A timeline of those stories is as follows:

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