By Ted AYALA
Smokers indulging their habit in Glendale’s numerous restaurants with sidewalk dining areas have been put on notice.
A set of amendments to the city’s Sidewalk Dining Program were introduced to the Glendale City Council on Tuesday night by Laura Stotler, principal planner for Community Development.
According to her, a number of modifications in the zoning code have been made in recent years. However, ordinances pertaining to outdoor dining were in need of being updated.
“What we want are amendments that are in keeping with current practice,” Stotler said in the meeting.
The amendments, which City Manager Scott Ochoa described as “rather innocuous,” would clarify differences between outdoor dining areas and sidewalk dining areas.
If the amendments pass, sidewalk dining areas would be designated as being in the public right-of-way, which would make them subject to the city’s smoking ordinances for public spaces. Smoking would no longer be permitted in sidewalk dining areas.
Outdoor dining areas, which are private property, would see no change in the ordinances that currently allow limited smoking in designated spaces.
“There’s sometimes a confusion between [sidewalk dining areas and outdoor dining areas],” said Stotler. “This is an attempt to clarify that. Right now it’s not clear which areas count as ‘outdoor dining.’ For purposes of the smoking ordinance some people use sidewalk dining as private property. But it’s not, it’s a public right-of-way.”
The amendments would also make sidewalk dining permits non-transferrable. A change in ownership of a restaurant with sidewalk dining would force the new owners to reapply for the permit. According to Stotler, this is to ensure that owners are “on board” and aware of the ordinances that may apply.
Inconsistencies determining where alcohol can be consumed would also be ironed out. Currently, restaurants and taverns with sidewalk dining areas are not permitted to serve alcohol in those areas. Stotler, in an interview after the meeting, said that the amendments would “clean up” those inconsistencies, allowing those establishments to serve alcohol on their sidewalk dining areas.
“Private property is no problem,” she said. “But there is a blurred line between what the city defines as ‘outdoor dining’ and ‘sidewalk dining.’”
Stotler said that “inconsistencies have been building up over years,” resulting in restaurants with alcohol permits which are not considered “full-service” being unable to serve alcohol in their sidewalk dining areas. Currently, only “full-service” restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol in their sidewalk dining areas.
Stotler pointed out that restaurant chains such as Rubio’s and Chipotle are establishments that would benefit from the amendments.
During the meeting, Councilmember Laura Friedman praised the amendments, taking special note of the closing of the loophole on smoking in sidewalk dining areas.
“I’m glad to see that you’re clarifying smoking,” she said. “I’ve seen restaurants that allow people to smoke in their sidewalk dining areas. I’m glad to see that will now be clearly prohibited.”
Council will vote on the amendments at its next meeting on March 24.