Reasons for Exemption
To qualify for a Class 3 Categorical Exemption pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15303, a project must consist of construction and location of limited numbers of new, small facilities or structures; installation of small new equipment and facilities in small structures; and the conversion of existing small structures from one use to another where only minor modifications are made in the exterior of the structure. Under the proposed Project, the existing and future use of a property as a restaurant with a Temporary Authorization for outdoor dining will not be changed but restaurants will be able to obtain necessary permits for outdoor dining areas via a by-right approval process as long as the restaurants comply with the outdoor dining area standards established by the Ordinance and any applicable health and safety guidelines. Operators that have not yet expanded their food and beverage establishments with outdoor dining facilities on private property will be able to do so through by-right approvals, and operators seeking to serve alcohol in newly expanded outdoor dining areas will be able to do so through a streamlined administrative clearance process. In those instances where restaurants do not have any designated outdoor space for dining, new configurations and structures will have to be considered and either constructed, installed, or converted. Furthermore, the outdoor dining areas would be accessory uses to approved restaurants, which would be on developed commercial properties and require public services and facilities for the operation of the restaurant. Therefore, the outdoor dining areas would be small structures or facilities meeting the requirements of a Class 3 exemption.
To qualify for a Class 11 Categorical Exemption pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15311, the project must consist of the construction or replacement of minor structures accessory to (appurtenant to) existing commercial, industrial, or institutional facilities. The existing structures in place for outdoor dining have been temporarily approved under the L.A. Al Fresco Temporary Authorizations and could be replaced under this program. New outdoor dining areas would all be required to be accessory uses to restaurants approved under standard zoning regulations and the LADBS Plan Check and Permit Compliance process, and any new outdoor dining structures would be required to not be enclosed, and be further restricted to dining uses. The proposed Project, then, would authorize the construction or replacement of minor structures accessory to existing commercial facilities, and a Class 11 Categorical Exemption would apply.
Chapter 2.6, Section 21080.25 of the State’s Public Resources Code provides a statutory exemption from CEQA for a “project carried out by a City or County to reduce minimum parking requirements.” A central component of this Project pertains to eliminating automobile parking requirements and provisions. The Project provides regulatory relief from automobile parking requirements needed for the placement of outdoor dining structures on private property that are ancillary to a restaurant’s by-right use. The relief provided exempts existing and/or new outdoor dining areas from parking requirements and further allows for restaurants to convert existing required automobile parking spaces to outdoor dining areas without needing to replace those spaces. However, at least one parking space must be provided, unless: the primary restaurant contains 3,000 square feet or less of floor area; the outdoor dining area is 1,000 square feet or less; or as otherwise prohibited by state or federal law.This provision is permanent for eligible businesses and in some instances will result in an overall reduction of required parking below current LAMC parking requirements for the life of that use and/or structure. The utilization of a restaurant’s parking spaces on private property would allow for the creation or modification of outdoor dining areas and would reduce minimum parking requirements. As such, the Project qualifies for the statutory exemption pursuant to Section 21080.25 of the State’s Public Resources Code.