Marking the second significant extension of outdoor dining in the city, the Beverly Hills City Council agreed to keep the OpenBH program in place in its current form through Dec. 31, 2022. Since its inception and approval in June of 2020, OpenBH has allowed businesses to expand their outdoor operations via parklets with waived permit fees and traffic control costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By extending the program an additional nine months, existing OpenBH participants can budget for three more 90-day no fee renewals before city staff returns to the Council with a proposed fee schedule, which would begin no earlier than Jan. 1, 2023. The timeline allows for businesses to evaluate long-term investments in their outdoor dining concepts while the OpenBH Ad Hoc subcommittees continue to develop long term conversions of the program.
Permits for temporary outdoor dining tents on the 100 block of North Canon Drive utilized by Spago and Nusr-Et are also set to expire on March 31. Both restaurants requested the City Council consider an additional extension of the street closure.
A total of 136 businesses have received a permit to participate in OpenBH, with new businesses joining as recently as last month.
“I think everybody should know that that’s a real date,” Councilmember Julian Gold said. “And so, whatever they’ve constructed at that point, I think there should be a real expectation that these are going to go away starting January 1.”
However, the Council did not approve an extension for the temporary outdoor dining tents at its March 1 Study Session due to concerns raised by neighbors at 190 N. Canon Drive, the landmark commercial office building known as the Fred Hayman building.
While many stakeholders expressed support, neighbors took issue with increased litter, loitering, lack of parking, aesthetics, and Nusr-Et’s tent structure, which extends beyond its own leased property line, encroaching into the roadway directly in front of the Fred Hayman building.
“Given that Spago already did get the support of their property owners around them, I would be okay with Spago staying till December of the end of this year,” Vice Mayor Lili Bosse said. “I would like to be able to do that for Nusr-Et if they can find a way to address the property line issue.”
According to Robert Hayman, who oversees the building, prospective tenants are leasing elsewhere due the outdoor dining tent’s unintended consequences: limited building access and visibility, surrounding trash, noise, loitering restaurant customers, and an entrance blocked by valet. “This situation, if continued, will cost the Fred Hayman building millions of dollars and will risk the financial viability of the property,” Hayman said.
“We understand that the messes that are created, may have or may have not been caused by our restaurant,” Steve Magnus representing Nusr-Et said at the meeting. “But we’re looking forward to helping our neighbors and making sure that those areas get clean.”
At the direction of the Council, city staff will provide an update at its next meeting regarding mitigation efforts, and if there is no progress between Nusr-Et and the Fred Hayman building, their permit will expire April 1. “We’re not going to make this an April Fool’s joke,” Councilmember John Mirisch said. “They need to figure it out sooner.”
While Mayor Robert Wunderlich hoped to foster more open-air dining, he acknowledged that “the outdoor dining on Canon is somewhat different. Obviously, these are larger tents that are taking up the entirety of the street. Absent negative impacts, I also think that the outdoor dining on Canon is a great benefit.”
Much remains to be done before OpenBH can launch in its next iteration. The Design and Operating Standards Subcommittee has put forth a six-month time frame in which the guidelines for parklets will be created by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects. Meanwhile, the Code and Fee Changes Subcommittee is still formulating recommendations that will be shared with the business community and formalized for approval at a future date.