Skip to main content

MB News

City Inks Contract for Outdoor Dining Consultant

Jun 09, 2023 10:59AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach City Council has agreed to a 15-month, $400,000 contract for a consultant to work on the city's long-term outdoor dining plan.

The scope of the work (see the contract at the end of the agenda) with consultant Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc. (MIG) is to include design and engineering, parking and traffic, a fiscal impact analysis, environmental documentation, and community engagement.

Councilmembers said that the consultant would work closely in tandem with the city's Outdoor Dining Task Force as well as the City Council.

"We need these consultants because a task force can’t do it on its own; our staff can’t do it on its own. This is such a complicated, complex task, with so many facets," said Councilmember Amy Howorth. "It’s a big number [$400,000], but this is a big thing that we want to figure out how to do right."

MIG has worked on projects including outdoor dining in San Diego, the State Street Master Plan in Santa Barbara, a comprehensive downtown parking study in Azusa, and a financial analysis of the downtown parking district in Santa Cruz.

Nevertheless, Councilmember Steve Napolitano said that City Council should serve as the "guardrails" to the project, and stay closely involved throughout the process.

"I don’t want to see a plan that comes back with things we’re not going to do, that no one supports, that’s a planner’s dream, but a fiscal manager’s nightmare," said Napolitano, recalling the former Downtown Specific Plan that was designed and later scrapped after the Coastal Commission insisted on major changes. "This isn’t a blank sheet of paper. It’s not an excuse to come up with ideas that are off the wall."

"It’s going to take all of us," continued Napolitano. "It can’t be, 'You guys do your thing and come back to Council in 15 months.' We have to be a part of it all along."

Regarding questions about the Coastal Commission's willingness to accept a new plan, Community Development Director Talyn Mirzakhanian told councilmembers that the Coastal Commission is working with multiple cities on their efforts to restore/revive outdoor dining. The commission "understands the urgency of these requests" and is "providing us direction based on their experiences with other cities," she said.

The council approved the contract on a 5-0 vote, with an amendment to add a specific reference in the contract to exploring the impact of the plan on local residents.

(In May 2022, the City Council had considered, and then decided to hold off on, approving a contract for a outdoor dining consultant. At the time, staff members said that the city would first need to hire a senior planner before it could know the scope and content of what it would need to ask for in a consultant.)

Long-Term Outdoor Dining Plan Sought

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city had created an outdoor dining and business use program for public safety purposes. That temporary program concluded at the end of February 2023 as California’s local emergency declaration expired.

Nevertheless, the temporary outdoor dining proved to be extremely popular, leading to multiple residents - and restaurants - calling for a way to bring it back.

The city appointed members of an Outdoor Dining Ad Hoc Task Force in April, following an avalanche of public interest, with 118 residents applying for just eight open seats. (The 15-member panel had already had seven seats filled with city/commercial representatives.)

The task force is charged with working on solutions for a permanent outdoor dining program that balances various interests of stakeholders while complying with state and local laws. It has held two public meetings so far.

To keep up with the latest developments and meetings as they are scheduled, visit the city's Outdoor Dining page.

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format