How Does Planning Support Small Business Interests During COVID-19?

How Does Planning Support Small Business Interests During COVID-19?

City Planning serves four million Angelenos across 35 communities. Ever since Mayor Garcetti announced the Safer At Home order to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Department has been adapting new methods of engagement to continue providing public service as seamlessly as possible while working to flatten the infection curve of the coronavirus. Now, more than ever, as we move into this uncharted territory, City Planning is committed to supporting small businesses during the impending economic downturn.

One of the first actions the Department took was to move the Westside Community Plan Workshops to an online format and to accept public comments electronically through April 30, 2020. It is hoped that the number of public comments received will be comparable to the usual count for in-person workshops. Although all public workshops and events have been temporarily postponed, the Department continues to review long-range land use plans that are key for setting the stage for future economic recovery, including housing and job production.

For years, City Planning’s Development Service Centers (DSCs) have been the hub of interaction between public businesses and Department staff. Last month, protocols were established to keep both members of the public and City Planning employees safe by modifying activity at all DSC locations. Through the new drop-off system implemented to support social distancing, planning documents (with proper identification) can be deposited in receptacles for pick-up by DSC staff after the determined decontamination time has elapsed. DSC staff then contact the plan owners via phone or email to discuss the current disposition and options for further processing of the plans.

As numerous restaurants and bars were forced to close due to the pandemic, City Planning worked with Mayor Garcetti’s office to issue a public order to modify City regulations governing the sale of alcoholic beverages. Businesses seeking to temporarily expand alcohol sales under this public order are not required to request approval from the Department, as this order has been granted by the Mayor and is already in effect. In another effort to help small business owners, City Planning introduced a long-term Restaurant Beverage Program ordinance to help qualifying sit-down restaurants save time and money while applying for beer and wine sales.

Most recently, City Planning has moved public meetings to a teleconference format to continue providing service to the communities and businesses across Los Angeles observing the current stay-at-home orders. These remote commission meetings keep planning processes operational that are crucial to Los Angeles’s economic and housing needs, such as the review of housing applications. Directions on how to listen in and provide public comment are sent to interested parties in advance of each meeting. Additionally, all presentations and materials related to any agenda item are uploaded to a publicly-shared electronic folder prior to each meeting to ensure ease of access.

 

Virtual Public Meetings

Throughout City Planning's long history, the Department has taken up the task of providing essential services to the City through supporting small business efforts, creating affordable housing, and planning for a healthy and vital Los Angeles. Department staff is confident these and other process adaptations will allow for the steady and unwavering support of the businesses and people who rely upon City Planning's expertise in contributing to Los Angeles’s role as a world-class leader.

You can find out more about these and other ways City Planning is supporting the economic growth of Los Angeles by providing employment opportunities for its communities through building, construction, and other services that staff provide residents and small businesses alike at planning.lacity.org/resources/p4la-covid-19.