Outdoor dining ordinance mulled

DINING outdoors in restaurants is banned in most areas of California, including Orange County. Above, a scene from Laguna Beach in July (OC Tribune file photo).

Should a city defy state orders and permit outdoor dining in its restaurants, despite a ban from the governor?

When the Westminster City Council meets on Wednesday, the agenda will include “consideration of a potential ordinance to allow outdoor dining with social distancing.” Councilmember Tai Do raised the idea.

While the prohibition on that practice has caused hardships to eateries struggling to stay afloat only on take-out and delivery business, such action would carry some risks.

In a staff report from Interim City Manager Sherry Johnson, it’s pointed out that Gov. Gavin Newsom has authorized a “strike team” to insure compliance with the “stay-at-home order” and “will go after businesses that are the most aggressive in intentionally defying directives.” Additionally, “cities and counties that do not adhere to directives risk losing funding.”

Westminster has received $3,687,735 in CARES Act funding. Such an ordinance could “risk past and future funding,” the staff report concluded.

Also on the agenda for Wednesday are:

  • appointments to city boards and commissions
  • review of an ordinance that created a temporary moratorium on evicting tenants
  • an update on homeless shelter efforts.

The council will meet in virtual session via teleconference with a closed session at 6:30 p.m. and an open session at 7 p.m.

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