Dogs are now welcome on L.A. County restaurant patios, the Department of Public Health announced Tuesday. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue -- no surprise there -- but Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe welcomed the new rule at this morning's announcement, saying "this new policy is a benefit to both small businesses and the community."
Restaurant owners are not beholden to the new rule: even those establishments with patios that meet all the canine rules (direct access to the patio, no outdoor food preparation or utensil storage) aren't compelled to start inviting the beasts over for dinner. In other words, nothing will change.
It's true that it has long been a health code violation to allow dogs on restaurant patios. But those restaurants that welcomed four-legged friends always did it anyway. Out of 10 restaurants queried around the county, from Santa Monica to Eagle Rock to Downtown to the San Fernando Valley, only one, Laurel Tavern in Studio City, did not allow dogs on the patio. But, since that patio faces the sidewalk, it is common and accepted practice to leash one's dog through the barrier to a chair or table. At the other restaurants called, allowing dogs was an obvious "yes," and many employees seemed unaware of either the previous or current ordinance. And we don't blame them. Los Angeles is full of arcane, confusing and often counter-intuitive food-related rules.
Speaking of which, we did learn one draconian bit of Santa Monica law today, that explains why Cha Cha Chicken's sidewalk tables went away: according to the restaurant, the city charges rent by the foot for tables and chairs that extend past restaurant grounds. You stay crazy, Santa Monica!
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