Temporary Outdoor Dining Program Approved by City Council

There are many reasons to eat local and in the age of COVID-19, when the value of any customer walking through the door of a restaurant cannot be measured, City administrators should do everything they can to help the local eateries.

El Monte has over 300 restaurants contributing to the local economy, keeping jobs in the community, sponsoring events, and introducing strangers to food from all over the world.

On March 17, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all restaurants in California were prohibited from offering dine-in food service. While drive-thru and delivery options remained available, the restrictions created an extreme hardship on restaurants – and many will never return.

Restaurants in LA County were recently given the approval to offer dine-in service again, provided certain conditions are met. These include wearing face masks, social distancing and limiting seating occupancy to 60% of the pre-COVID levels.

The need to maintain a high seating occupancy is crucial for a restaurant to be successful and in a great show of understanding, empathy, and leadership, the El Monte City Council approved the “Dine-Out El Monte” program, allowing temporary outdoor dining for restaurants and other eateries.

The program includes four types of outdoor dining. Dining on Private Walkways –including oversized walkways and other paved areas near the building entrance; Dining on Private Parking Spaces – an option for restaurants located in larger shopping centers; Dining on Public Sidewalks – For restaurants that border a public right-of-way; and Dining on Public Parking Spaces –For restaurants on Main Street in Downtown, where traffic is slower.

This program is for actual real dine-in style restaurants as defined by the El Monte Municipal Code and must have a valid City Business License. Nightclubs, gas station mini-marts, convenience markets, grocery stores, liquor stores or those pop-up taco stands you see around town cannot apply for the program.

The program is not available for restaurants that have existing cases with Code Enforcement or are not in compliance with existing conditions of approval through the Planning Department. Outdoor dining on public parking spaces is limited only to the Downtown Main Street area.

However, using public parking spaces for diners is not an option for restaurants on Santa Anita Ave, Valley Blvd, and Ramona Blvd.

Permits are set to expire September 30, 2020 unless extended by the City Council.

For additional information, contact the Planning Division by calling (626) 258-8626 or visit the City of El Monte website at www.www.ci.el-monte.ca.us/.

Remember, City Hall is open by appointment only so call ahead before heading downtown.