LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Long Beach Tuesday became one of the first cities in Los Angeles County to move forward with a plan to create more room for outdoor dining at restaurants amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Small parks like the one pictured here could be popping up around Long Beach to allow outdoor dining at local restaurants. Credit: Studio One Eleven)

“We’re all excited for anything that’s going to get the momentum going,” Torri Yarmoluk, manager of George’s Greek Cafe, said.

The plan adopted by the city council will hopefully allow some places, like George’s, to start serving diners again within weeks.

“The science says that it’s much safer than indoor dining,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. “And so, as soon as restaurants are allowed, we want this ready, but we can start opening these now in neighborhoods and other locations before the restaurant dining even starts.”

Garcia was behind the open streets initiative that seeks to close or partially close streets across the city, allowing businesses to utilize roads, parking lots and sidewalks to create little park-like areas called parklets.

And the parklet concept is not new to Long Beach, which has been building the spaces since 2011 with the help of architects at Studio One Eleven.

“The real focus of this is helping businesses recover and get back to business,” Alan Pullman, an architect, said.

City officials said they plan to use signage to ensure proper distancing and K-Rails for safety from traffic. The city said the dining areas could start popping up in places like Second Street, downtown Long Beach and areas of Bixby Knolls in the next two weeks.

“All of our residents are just banging at the doors waiting for everything to open,” Yarmoluk said. “So they’ll be so excited.”

The mayor said along with the open streets initiative, the city hopes to use spaces like the convention center parking lot to create a pop-up drive-in movie theater.

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