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Newport Beach to consider extension of emergency use permits for outdoor dining

Customers sit in an outdoor dining area near Blackie's By the Sea.
Customers sit in an outdoor dining area near Blackie’s By the Sea at Newport Beach Pier in November 2020.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Newport Beach City Council will be once again considering the extension of emergency temporary use permits issued at the start of the pandemic to businesses citywide that allow them to operate in parking lots, sidewalks and private and public property.

The issue arrives at the dais Tuesday just little over two months since it was last discussed in June when council members voted to extend the life of said permits through Sept. 6, at which point business owners could apply for a limited-term permit dependent on the business’ location, parking and land use compatibility.

They would eventually be expected to amend their entitlements, typically through a conditional or minor use permit and, if in the coastal zone, a coastal development permit to make their outdoor dining or display permanent fixtures.

The aim, city staff said then, was to create a transitionary period as businesses and restaurants recovered from the pandemic.

With that date now past, city staff said in a report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting that the arrival and growth of the Delta variant of the coronavirus — the current dominant strain in Orange County and highly contagious — has recomplicated matters for businesses trying to comply with the Cal OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards and other agency guidelines on distancing, ventilation and use of outdoor areas to reduce transmission of the virus.

As proposed, the emergency temporary use permits would be outstanding to the end of the year. Following that extension, business owners would then need to follow the limited-term permit process to continue using their outdoor fixtures.

To date, the city has received 24 applications.

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