By Cynthia Gibson
CULVER CITY — The city began closing some downtown streets to vehicle traffic July 30 in order to promote outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The approved street closures include westbound Culver Boulevard between Duquesne Avenue and Canfield Avenue and Main Street between Culver Boulevard and the city limit south of Venice Boulevard. This, along with temporary outdoor dining permits, which the city began issuing on June 1, are meant to help restaurants weather the pandemic.
The southbound direction of Culver Boulevard will remain open to emergency vehicles, buses, bicycles and scooters.
Downtown Business Association President Darrel Menthe said the extension of the outdoor dining patio is the biggest physical change to downtown Culver City in more than a decade, and that the association moved fast, after the City Council approved funding for the initiative June 22.
“In a matter of weeks, we have implemented a plan that under ordinary circumstances would have taken years to develop,” Menthe said in a written statement.
In addition to the street closures, the city is issuing temporary public right-of-way permits for outdoor dining and retail, in order to enable restaurants and stores to seat or serve more people in the adjacent sidewalk or public street areas next to their businesses, while preserving physical distancing requirements.
Various Los Angeles County cities started offering temporary outdoor permits to restaurants, after they were permitted to reopen for dine-in service in late May. Outdoor dining became especially popular after restaurants were ordered to close their indoor dining rooms a month later, after a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Sisters Erin and Ariel Wilson and their friend Asia Thomas took advantage of the expanded patio dining in to enjoy dinner outdoors at Janga by Derrick’s Jamaican Cuisine July 31.
“We had other plans today, but we figured we would try and see how we felt coming out here to dine and socialize during the pandemic,” Ariel Wilson said. “Really, the protocol of the restaurant plays a huge factor with comfortability. We’re comfortable sitting out here on the sidewalk turned away from everybody. As long as we have our mask on and [are] properly separated, we feel comfortable being here.”