City schedules more reopenings, prepares for outdoor dining program

Story by Sofia Alva
Staff Writer

Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
Staff Photographer

The City Council prolonged the local state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic for 60 more days and approved workplace reopening protocols at its meeting on Wednesday, June 17. 

A local emergency was first proclaimed at a meeting in mid-March, however, it must be updated by the council every 60 days. The adopted resolution also reinstates the overnight parking pass program effective Monday, July 6 and implements permit requirements for the Al Fresco Dining and Retail Program. 

The Al Fresco Dining and Retail Program will be phased into the South Pasadena business community. In stage one, the City will work with restaurants and the Chamber of Commerce to designate curbside pickup areas. Shops will then utilize parking lots and lanes, side streets, and other private spaces for dining.  

Councilmember Richard Schneider proposed closing off Meridian Avenue from Mission to El Centro Street for outdoor dining and takeout services for nine to 12 months. Many community members supported this idea, noting it could help small businesses that have been economically devastated by the coronavirus.

“Being together in the open air is one of the safest places people can be together and eat,” resident Josh Albrektson said. “Having places like this, closed to cars, is happening across the country and allowing dining there is more important than allowing cars to drive on Meridian.”

The restaurant program will expire 90 days after the emergency declaration has been lifted. At that time, city staff will begin implementing permanent outdoor dining options. Any businesses interested in participating in the Al Fresco Dining and Retail Program should visit the City’s Economic Development webpage to take a brief survey.

City Hall is set to reopen on Monday, June 22 in compliance with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines. Employees will return on a staggered schedule and are required to wear masks and other protective equipment. Telecommuting for some workers will continue and all meetings will still be held virtually.

The City plans to reopen Camp Med on July 6 with precautions, including a one to 12 counselor to camper ratio, periodic wellness checks, and a mask requirement. Orange Grove Park, the Eddie Park House, the War Memorial Building, and the Library Community Room will all be used for the summer day camp.

A Grab and Go lunch program will begin at the South Pasadena Senior Center on Thurday, June 25. Seniors will be able to drive up to the center and receive lunch while remaining socially distant. No on-site lunches will be served, but home delivery will continue for those who need it.

Last week’s City Hall protest and the list of 21 demands from the activist group South Pasadena Youth for Police Reform were not addressed by councilmembers at the meeting, despite several public comments calling for a decrease in law enforcement spending. 

The City Council did not pass nor discuss the budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, despite residents’ requests for more transparency and accountability. City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe informed the council that the 2019 budget audit will most likely be completed by the end of July. 

The budget will be up for adoption at the next City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 24.

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