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Fullerton to keep Wilshire Avenue closed to traffic into 2024 for outdoor dining

Fullerton’s Walk on Wilshire, the pandemic-spurred outdoor dining promenade that closed a portion of the boulevard to traffic so restaurants could spill onto the street with their tables, will remain open into 2024.

Eateries and shops on Wilshire Avenue near Harbor Boulevard will have the option to construct parklets that extend off the sidewalks in front of their businesses. The pilot program is expected to be offered through June 30, 2024.

The City Council in March voted to end the relaxed outdoor dining rules that were afforded to restaurants during the pandemic, which allowed them to set up seating in public streets or private parking lots without going through the normal approval process. City leaders gave businesses around Fullerton until Sept. 30 to decide if they wanted to apply, pay the fees and obtain the permits necessary to continue some outdoor operations permanently.

The decision by Fullerton’s City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 16, to continue the Walk on Wilshire gives businesses along that stretch until the end of the year to apply and be approved for the parklet program. Those wanting to participate will have to complete Fullerton’s standard outdoor dining application, which includes signing an encroachment agreement and pay fees to lease the space, which would take some parking spots, City Engineer Stephen Bise said.

He said city employees spoke with the business operators in that area and there was “strong interest and support” to continue with outdoor dining “to some degree.”

Known as a bike boulevard, a segment of Wilshire Avenue designed for cyclists runs through the promenade. Signs temporarily telling bikers to hop off while transversing the Walk on Wilshire drew some ire, but the parklet program will once again dedicate the center of the street as a bike path. The street will remain closed to cars.

Councilman Bruce Whitaker, responding to feedback from the public that the program would benefit some business owners over others, said the advantages would extend to others nearby “as we become a destination, as the downtown area draws more and more people here, in part because of that amenity.

“There’s going to be a lot of overflow,” he said, “and other businesses are going to benefit from it as well.”

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