Pasadena restaurants ready for big changes before reopening – Pasadena Star News


It’s no secret that Pasadena’s restaurant and retail scene will be very different when customers are finally allowed to return to their favorite haunts for more than take-out and deliveries.

What these changes inspired by the coronavirus pandemic will look like, however, is less of a secret now after a city meeting on Wednesday painted a first picture of the future of Pasadena’s retail and restaurant business.

Spoiler alert: you’ll likely be dining out.

Authorities may allow restaurants to take over certain public spaces – such as sidewalks or alleys and perhaps even parking spaces or entire streets – in order to accommodate more diners while maintaining distancing guidelines physical, according to planning director David Reyes, who spoke to the Economic Development and Technology Commission on Wednesday.

Without an expanded footprint, Reyes said many restaurants would consider significantly reduced capacity – a particularly awkward situation for smaller, more intimate establishments whose owners are unlikely to be able to make ends meet without more space.

While they weren’t the center of the conversation, some retail stores could get their own version of it, but the details were more sparse here.

Still, it’s not as easy as just waving a magic wand. There are a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to overcome for restaurateurs who want to use public space, at least right now. But that could change soon.

Reyes said the city would consider waiving a number of licensing requirements for restaurants, making it easier for them to open take-out windows and serve alcohol outside.

Authorities are also seeking to ease restrictions on banners and signage, giving more space to restaurants and retailers in order to attract more customers.

Reyes said his department was working with the city attorney’s office to expedite some of these code changes and provide guidance to business owners so they can start preparing.

“The goal is to have (the guidelines) done right before they are needed,” Reyes said.

He has been urged by Councilors Victor Gordo, Steve Madison, Tyron Hampton and Andy Wilson to have the bylaws ready as soon as possible, although it is not clear when they will actually be finalized – likely within the next two to three. weeks, Reyes said.

Earlier this week, Pasadena officials were told they couldn’t reopen businesses until Los Angeles County – which was infuriating for the four city councilors who suggested the city could sue the state over it. subject.

But for now, most recognized that they were subject to the whims of other government agencies.

“What the governor has to say is going to change in three days,” Hampton scolded. “He changes his mind every 40 minutes. We must be prepared and ready ”if he decides to allow businesses to reopen.

Still, it was important for Pasadena to move forward and continue to develop these guidelines, the advisers agreed.

“It comes back to Pasadena in the lead and not waiting for the others to figure out what the frame looks like,” Gordo said. “We should be doing it here and we should be doing it in a quick, quick, and good way for our community.”

Whatever plan the city eventually moves forward with, Reyes said some restaurants will inevitably be left behind.

“Not all restaurants will benefit,” he said. “There will be inequalities because not everyone has access to the same amount of public space. Not all restaurants will be physically able to expand their footprint.

It’s part of the allure of shutting down entire city streets and allowing restaurants and shops to take over, but this plan comes with its own set of challenges.

On the one hand, closing streets comes at a cost, Transport Ministry director Laura Cornejo said on Wednesday.

Cornejo said officials had considered a few options – one would be to close a street for an entire month, another would see a weekend closure from Friday to Sunday, and a third option that would close a street only during working hours. office but would otherwise leave it open.

Depending on the option, it could cost between $ 83,000 and $ 140,000 per month to keep the street closed, Cornejo said.

And although she said they have a few candidates for street closures, the main one is Colorado Boulevard, home to many of the city’s shops and restaurants.

A little frightened by the closure of the ‘over-designed’ Rose Bowl loop, the actual costs of which have more than doubled from estimates, Gordo echoed his colleagues who suggested that the closure of Colorado Boulevard could be more problematic than his value.

“The street closure sounds exciting, but I’m afraid we could choke on ourselves when we can otherwise do a lot of layups,” Wilson said. “It’s all about return on effort.

Opening sidewalks and potentially even street parking seemed to be a more accessible goal for councilors.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t think about the complete shutdown,” Gordo said. “But we should be more nimble than just waiting to solve the big stop on Colorado Boulevard.”

He said the city should seek “easy solutions and provide advice so people can think about their own businesses, their own circumstances, which may not be on Colorado Boulevard.”

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