Business-friendly zoning changes are here to stay

If you like dining in the cafeteria or ordering takeaway cocktails, you’re in luck. The City of Santa Monica has officially revised local bylaws to allow these and other pandemic-era zoning changes to remain in effect long-term.

The move comes days after the city caused a stir earlier this month when businesses were told they had to start phasing out new permanent park projects (including fees and permit requirements) or closing their lucrative outdoor areas. . In response, about 70 businesses chose to start making their temporary parks permanent.

The shift in parklets and other zoning ordinance changes marks a citywide push to codify zoning changes that would allow parklets and other pandemic-era business rules to remain in perpetuity. That means keeping many of the temporary changes that were allowed to be hastily implemented in the early days of COVID-19, including relaxing alcohol service rules and parking requirements, removing restaurant caps per block on Main Street, and allowing fine dining on the multipurpose Third Street Promenade Square and more.

According to a New York City spokesperson, the changes are designed to “support the goal of creating a more dynamic experience by increasing nightlife, entertainment and the flexibility to experiment with different uses.”

Not all code changes are as flashy as allowing cocktails to be added to the to-go menu, but city workers say they hope the changes will support businesses as they continue to bounce back from the COVID downturn.

An example would be the removal of a one-year waiver period for legal, substandard restaurant or retail use. Let’s say you want to open a sushi restaurant in a storefront that used to be a sushi restaurant that closed six months ago – you can open it up there without any hassle. However, under previous rules, if it’s been a year or more, you’ll need to tick off a long list of permits from scratch before you’re allowed to open, including the possibility of a public hearing if you ask for any discrepancies, such as Minimum parking requirements.

The new rules remove the one-year limit.

“This removes the one-year waiver period currently in the code and allows these types of uses and businesses to re-occupy vacant tenant space for the same use, no matter how long it’s been vacant, as long as no other use takes up that cafeteria or retail store. vacant space since then,” said assistant planner Steve Mizokami on Tuesday, October 10. 11. Santa Monica City Council meeting. “So, in essence, this eliminates the need for new land use rights or parking requirements for essentially the same use as the previous one.”

Regarding parking, another city-wide rule change will “increase the use of parking concessions from 3 to 10,” meaning if you rent a space with a four-parking permit but your new business requires 9 to meet regulations, and since “repurpose” requires less than 10 additional spaces, NYC will still allow you to open. Outdoor spaces are also now exempt from parking calculations for repurposing.

Reducing restrictions on restaurant size includes adding multi-tenant dining halls as a conditional use and up to 5,000 square feet of dining halls as an on-entitlement use. The rules also now allow food halls to operate on promenades and light industries.

As far as alcohol regulations are concerned, service hours have been extended and are now citywide from 8am to 2am, 7 days a week; restrictions on TVs and video projectors have been lifted, as well as a 35% cap on alcohol sales . Alcohol delivery and delivery are now permanently regulated citywide.

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