Photo by Ross Furukawa

Relaxed regulations to help bolster the economic recovery of local businesses could soon be extended by City Councilmembers until the end of 2022.

In May, Council adopted two Emergency Interim Zoning Ordinances, which established temporary rules that sought to make it easier for businesses to adapt to the changing world of COVID. Specifically, the ordinances focused on relaxing barriers that could create unnecessary difficulties for businesses and tried to foster nightlife and entertainment in the shopping district by allowing restaurants in commercial areas other than the Promenade to serve alcohol from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. each day, rather than just on Fridays and Saturdays.

The emergency ordinance also allowed restaurants to generate half of their gross revenue from alcohol sales — the state’s legal limit — and extended a coronavirus-era rule that allows restaurants to offer alcoholic drinks for takeout and delivery.

Promenade restaurants and bars gained the ability to obtain alcohol permits through an administrative process and serve alcohol on their premises, for takeout and delivery until 2 a.m. each day. Restrictions on live entertainment, television screens and games were removed as well with the introduction of the IZOs.

Now, a staff report reads, “given the uncertainty as to the duration of the ongoing Executive Order, staff recommends that both interim ordinances be extended until December 31, 2022, to allow for additional testing and monitoring of flexible regulations to understand their efficacy and facilitate the continued economic recovery of local businesses.”

Both of the Emergency Interim Zoning Ordinances proposed for Tuesday remain largely unchanged, but they will include more flexible loading standards in the Third Street Promenade area and more flexible Alcohol Exemption standards for the Santa Monica Pier and other applicable commercial areas.

If council doesn’t wish to implement staff’s recommendation, it may instead choose to extend the interim ordinance to be in effect up to 60 months, in accordance with Santa Monica Municipal Code, the report reads. Residents interested in speaking on an agenda item can sign up for public comment by emailing councilmtgitems@smgov.net.

brennon@smdp.com