City relaxes rules on outdoor dining

DOWNEY - It's suddenly much easier - and cheaper - for restaurants to establish outdoor dining areas on their property.After a public hearing Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow restaurant owners to bypass the Planning Commission and have their plans reviewed directly by a city planner. The move is expected to save restaurant owners time and money, city officials said. Prior to Tuesday, restaurant owners were required to pay a $1,750 filing fee to initiate a site plan review, which typically lasted 3-4 months. Plans also required approval by the Planning Commission. Under the new ordinance, the filing fee has been reduced to $250 and the process should be completed in less than two months, according to Community Development Director Brian Saeki. Councilman Roger Brossmer praised the new streamlined process, but said the city should go a step further and relax the rules regarding patio fencing. Councilman Mario Guerra said current regulations mandate tall, permanent fencing. "It's like a cave," he said.

********** Published: July 15, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 13