By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The nonprofit CicLAvia will work with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to help the city expand its COVID-19 Al Fresco outdoor dining program.

The program, which began last May, helps restaurants safely serve diners during the COVID pandemic by offering outdoor dining on sidewalks, parking lots and streets.

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On May 12, the Los Angeles City Council voted to have reports created on the possibility of making the program permanent while following Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

CicLAvia, known for holding events on closed roadways in Los Angeles to allow people to bike, walk, skate and jog in pop-up public spaces, has been working with the city on the program since late 2020, specifically in areas that were most impacted by the pandemic, like Boyle Heights, Chinatown, the Westlake district, Pacoima and South Los Angeles.

“CicLAvia has been utilizing its open streets planning expertise in a new way by reaching out to smaller ‘mom and pop’ restaurants in communities most impacted by the pandemic,” said CicLAvia Executive Director Romel Pascual.

“By offering free assistance to these ‘hidden gems’ via the L.A. Al Fresco program, CicLAvia helps these restaurants accommodate more customers so they can serve their neighborhoods safely and with greater capacity, stay open and continue to prosper.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget proposal for the 2021-22 fiscal year includes $2 million in grants for low-income neighborhood restaurants to create permanent areas for outdoor dining as part of the program.

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Garcetti signaled his support for making the program permanent during his State of the City address in April.

“In a city whose unofficial motto is 72 and sunny, let’s make al fresco dining permanent, including nearly $2 million in grants for restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to set up permanent parklets for outdoor dining,” the mayor said.

Former Councilman David Ryu, who in August introduced the motion that the council approved Wednesday, said L.A. “has an opportunity to re-imagine the ways that we use our city streets and support our local businesses.”

CicLAvia is preparing to hold its open streets events again and will soon announce the route and for its next event, which were stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pascual said Wednesday.

“We are looking forward to once again bringing our public space events to Angelenos through biking, walking, strolling, skating, or jogging, together creating more incredible moments and experiences,” Pascual said.

“With this L.A. Al Fresco work, CicLAvia is coming full circle by providing a different type of outreach and ensuring that our return to our highly anticipated open street events will be back even stronger as we continue to expand the horizons of our L.A. community.”

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)