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Council approves a parklet in front of Alessa restaurant

Alessa Laguna Beach customers will soon be able to enjoy pizza bianco and veal marsala alfresco after the City Council approved a temporary seating area in front of the Forest Avenue restaurant.

In a 4 to 1 vote last week, the council approved a temporary use permit and coastal development permit for Alessa to construct a parklet that will cover two public, metered parking spaces for 60 days. Councilwoman Toni Iseman dissented.

The council discussed parklets earlier this year as part of a broader discussion on downtown revitalization with added outdoor dining spaces and pedestrian-friendly streets. The council considered, but eventually voted down, a proposal to temporarily close Forest Avenue to vehicular traffic.

Alessa 234 Forest Ave., was the only business to apply for a parklet as of last week’s council meeting.

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The restaurant and city will split costs of essential materials, such as an aluminum platform and a 36-inch wood slat fence around the perimeter of the parklet, and labor, which Alessa ownership estimated at $10,000, according to a city staff report. The platform will be set even with the curb.

Owner and chef Alessandro Pirozzi told the council that his business could pay an additional $10,000 on design, construction and other elements, such as tables, chairs and planters.

The area will seat 20 guests at a given time and be open only to restaurant patrons. Resident Bonnie Hano was not pleased with the arrangement.

“This seems so wrong to be taking public places, parking that belongs to all of us, and giving them to private individuals for their profit,” Hano said. “How does this help the city in any way? Parklets first started out as places people could sit, bring a cup of coffee and chat. Now it turns out we are giving restaurants that are most successful downtown our parking places. It deprives other merchants of allowing easy access for customers to park.”

Landscape designer Ruben Flores commended Alessa for taking a risk.

“You don’t know if it’s going to work unless you try,” Flores, a member of the city’s View Restoration Committee, said.

A call and email to Pirozzi asking about an expected opening day for the parklet were not returned as of Monday afternoon.

City staff are evaluating Alessa’s design plans for compliance with state building code and Americas With Disabilities Act requirements

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Councilman Kelly Boyd said he supported the parklet because it is temporary and requested the council — not city staff — evaluate its effectiveness after 60 days.


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