Manhattan Beach to remove outdoor dining decks

A post on Manhattan Beach's Facebook said decks on the public right-of-way installed due to the pandemic will be removed Jan. 3.
MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- For some, outdoor dining has become a staple during the pandemic, but the Manhattan Beach community may be making some adjustments to that lifestyle in the near future.

A recent post on the City of Manhattan Beach's Facebook page said decks on the public right-of-way installed due to the pandemic will be removed by Jan. 3.

Many business owners and community members said they were surprised by the Manhattan Beach City Council's decision to remove the temporary outdoor dining decks, especially given that other beach cities like Hermosa have extended their outdoor dining programs until the end of May.

"It's a little sad," said Robert Astalos, a Manhattan Beach resident. "I think it's nice for people to be able to sit outside and I know a lot of fellow neighbors aren't liking the idea of them getting rid of the outdoor seating."

"It's a different style of seating, and instead of being inside you're outdoors," said Brooklyn Hardaker, another Manhattan Beach resident. "Sun, weather, in the elements, it's pretty amazing. I'm disappointed that they want to get rid of it."

Business owners added it's not that simple to remove them. They told ABC7 Thousands of dollars went into installing the decks, and they said it'd be just as difficult to take them down. Chef-owner David Slay of Slay Restaurants said he built his first deck for about $55,000.

"We've invested more throughout the year by continually keeping it up, redoing the paint, redoing the carpet, redoing a lot of the plants," Slay said. "So, we've got well over $120,000 into it."

In a comment on the Facebook post, the city mentioned some challenges to the outdoor dining decks include increased trash, noise, parking and traffic congestion.

"All the business operators who are doing it have done a great job of maintaining their decks, we have curfews that we maintain, we have certain times that we are off the decks by, we've been totally compliant with the city and all of these issues," said Bill Matthews, the chief operating officer of Zislis Group, a group that oversees and operates restaurants and hotels. "It's really a non-issue."

Even though this time of year is colder, business owners said customers still want to sit outside. They also said some still worry about COVID, especially with the new variant.

"It just doesn't make sense," Matthews said. "From a safety perspective, keeping our guests and our staff safe and having the ability to serve outdoors and open air. It's the right thing to do."

Community members are trying to rally support to appeal the decision at the next city council meeting. On the Facebook page the city also wrote it will begin the process to consider dining on public property in Manhattan Beach and will explore options to include the program as part of the city's character.

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