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Outdoor Dining Areas Would Entail Wider Sidewalks, Parking Changes

Feb 18, 2024 08:52PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

An artists' rendering of what Manhattan Beach Blvd. could look like with permanent outdoor dining.  Image via city of Manhattan Beach.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Manhattan Beach City Council will take a first look at a proposed vision for outdoor dining that would include widened sidewalks and reconfigured parking. 

The proposal represents the collaborative efforts of city staff, the city's Outdoor Dining Task Force, and the consultant Moore Iacofono Goltsman Inc. (MIG).

Councilmembers will also hear the results of community outreach workshops and focus groups and the concerns and desires expressed by residents and business owners.

According to city staff, the agreed-upon "preferred program vision" would balance outdoor dining opportunities with residents' quality of life; minimizing concerns such as traffic, parking, trash, visual blight, and noise.

The "preferred" vision would call for permanent sidewalk widening as well as reconfiguring parking spaces. The parking would need to change from parallel to angled parking in some areas such as the east side of the 1100 block of Manhattan Ave. (in front of Manhattan Creamery and other stores), and would change from angled parking to parallel parking in other areas such as the north side of the 300 block of Manhattan Beach Blvd. (in front of Culture Brewing, Bluestone Lane, Love & Salt, Hennessey's, Esperanza, and The Kettle).

The council will also consider walk street commercial options for the east side of 10th Street at Manhattan Ave. Commercial use of walk streets is currently prohibited, but the design proposal entertains the idea of possibly creating either "public flex space" at that corner, or allowing outdoor dining. While community respondents have appeared to be largely in favor of allowing outdoor dining at walk street corners that border commercial districts, those residents closest to those corners have expressed opposition.

Councilmembers will be asked to vote on expanding MIG's contract by an additional $91,726 to develop preliminary plans for the new designs. 

More information about these items are available on the City Council's agenda.

Long-Term Outdoor Dining Plan Is Long-Term Goal

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 2023, 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 has been 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 nine meetings so far.

In June 2023, City Council agreed to a 15-month, $400,000 contract for MIG to work on the city's long-term outdoor dining plan. The scope of the work included design and engineering, parking and traffic, a fiscal impact analysis, environmental documentation, and community engagement.

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

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