By CBSLA Staff

WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) – In an effort to make it easier for restaurants and stores to expand outdoor dining and attract more shoppers, the city of West Hollywood will begin implementing weekend shutdowns of one of its busiest thoroughfares.

People eat at a restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif., on April 8, 2021. (Getty Images)

The city of West Hollywood announced that, starting Saturday night, it will shut down a stretch of Robertson Boulevard to vehicle traffic between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.

The plan is designed to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. The closure will run every weekend from 6 p.m. Saturday through late-night Sunday. It’s unclear how long it will go for.

It’s part of a city program called OUT which began during the height of the pandemic last August to give businesses the opportunity to obtain permits that allows them to expand outdoor dining and shopping onto sidewalks, parking spaces and private parking lots.

“Closing this highly trafficked and bustling stretch of Robertson will provide a pedestrian-safe space that allows for appropriate social distancing as the Public Health Department eases capacity restrictions while still monitoring the spread of the virus,” West Hollywood City Councilman John Erickson said in a statement.

The city advises visitors to park in the five-story parking structure at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., next to the West Hollywood Library.

The West Hollywood West Residents Association provided CBSLA the following statement Friday in response to the closure:

“The West Hollywood City Council approved this three month pilot program in February without any previous out-reach to residents or businesses. The WHWRA and individual residents in both Weho West and the Norma Triangle have since expressed concern about the potential for traffic diversion onto residential streets, resident mobility in and out of the neighborhoods, delayed response from emergency vehicles and noise due to amplified sound.”

Several cities across the Southland have embraced similar street closure programs to aid their shopping districts during the pandemic.

In February, the city of Manhattan Beach closed a major downtown street so its restaurants could also expand outdoor dining.  San Fernando Boulevard in downtown Burbank was shut down from July to December.

The city of Pasadena also closed portions of Colorado Boulevard.

Long Beach launched the Open Streets Initiative, closing several roads to cars during specific hours, but keeping them open for walking and biking.

The Los Angeles City Council launched the Al Fresco program. The program, which began last May, makes it easier for restaurants to get the permits they need to expand outdoor eating to sidewalks, private parking lots and streets.

In November, the city of Pico Rivera began testing out a new experience it calls “parklets,” in which street areas are transformed into microparks and outdoor dining spaces.