Al Fresco to the Rescue - LA's Revised Ordinance Rides Again
Parking & Mobility Industry Leaders Drive Technology and Innovation at #IPMI2023
IPMI is the world’s largest association of professionals in parking, transportation, and mobility — professionals who keep all of us moving. IPMI works to advance the parking and mobility profession through education, research and data collection, advocacy, and outreach.
The IPMI Conference & Expo brings together professionals representing every level of experience and segment of the parking, transportation, and mobility industry.
Technology is rapidly transforming the parking, transportation, and mobility industry. From planning smart cities and transportation systems, to managing the curb environment, to multi-modal mobility ecosystems integrating electric vehicles (EVs), Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and first- and last-mile solutions – these cutting-edge companies are driving innovation in the industry.
Get to know our Top Ten Strategic Partners and explore hundreds of exhibitors offering the latest in technology solutions and services.
Advanced registration ends May 22.
Al Fresco Dining, Take Two
When cities first started hunkering down during the early days of the pandemic, one of the earliest “uh oh” realizations was that lockdowns would have a deleterious effect on the dining and shopping sectors - a sizable employer (and tax generator) in every municipality. Across the globe, cities impressively built out and scaled ad hoc solutions, converging around a few new norms that today we lump together as “outdoor dining.” In truth, different cities created different rules, with different amounts of laissez faire attitudes about what was permitted and where. Sometimes it was on the sidewalk, sometimes it was in the parking lane; sometimes you could build an enclosure, sometimes you couldn’t; rules differed around alcohol sales, music, capacity, fees; there were even different terms depending on where you were located (do you spell it “streatery” or “streetery”?)
Over the past year or two, as emergency provisions have expired, cities have taken divergent approaches with what to do with the initially temporary solutions they set up to give restaurants a fighting chance. We’ve seen some cities (like Toronto) take expansive, permissive approaches - as CaféTO kept much of the better parts of the system in tact. Other cities have erred more towards giving space back to motorists, or let the machinations of bureaucracy get in the way: NYC seems unable to decide whether dining sheds are allowed, banned, or have to be borne anew every season like some sort of esoteric dance. San Francisco’s new permanent system for “shared spaces” appears so onerous (site plans, neighborhood meetings, inspections, public notices…) that some businesses are asking for grants to be able to comply. (Although I will note that the $2,000 per parking spot annual fee sounds like a good price to me for SF real estate.)
In LA, it looked like the city was initially set to come down in the latter camp, as the original proposal for permanent regulation was deemed a “sucker punch” that could undo a program that had enlivened the sidewalks of a city often known for not making the best out of its scenic terrain and temperate weather. The proposed regulations would have required a new permitting process for restaurateurs that simply wanted to keep existing dining setups in place, with added rules for those selling alcohol. It also appeared the city wanted to dramatically cut back allowable dining space in general, and nix certain neighborhoods from having outdoor dining at all. It was estimated the new program could see some restaurants spending up to $40k, and waiting a year, just to keep beloved outdoor dining setups going.
Naturally, both diners and dining operators complained. And in a move that I think should get applause for both politicians and policy makers everywhere: the city listened.
The revised proposal takes an expansive, positive view of what city life can be, in a way that might mean even more outdoor life than we see today. Now far fewer restaurants will need to deal with planning approval, cutting down time and expenses, and hopefully letting the planning department concentrate its resources on other issues like housing production. Restaurateurs are also given way more flexibility on things like seating capacity, events, configurations, and egress. And crucially, existing build outs should have very minimal work to do to keep their current setups humming.
Speaking with restaurateurs, the collective mood is upbeat. “We’re thrilled that the city has taken a proactive stance with this new alfresco ordinance. We’d like to thank our councilmember Traci Park for her help in forging a viable path to success and allow us to hire more employees moving forward in this post pandemic period” said Darrell Preston, who operates the Venice Whaler and Baja Cantina in LA’s Westside.
Eddie Navarette, Executive Director of the Independent Hospitality Coalition, was also optimistic about the new changes, and how they’ll help many of his organization’s constituents. He noted that he’d love to see further progress on areas like allowable service areas and music, something other restaurateurs echoed. Brittney Valles, General Manager of Guerilla Tacos, thought that “The ordinance as it stands prohibits music, television, monitors, screens, and speakers in the outdoor dining area which would make it very difficult to set the proper ambiance for diners especially in the busier parts of town… Anything that would require a small restaurant like ours to go to building and safety is already too timely and expensive.” But overall she thought “the updated ordinance is a step in the right direction.”
Mayor Bass has signaled her support for the revised ordinance, so it looks like things are headed in the right direction. Again, I think it’s important that we thank the city government for taking a little risk here, and being willing to challenge the status quo. I’d also like to (selfishly) thank everyone that’s fought the good fight for this, both at Curbivore, and at large; when you help get people in the same room (or parking lot) and show them that a better world is possible, sometimes it actually comes true!
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
“We are now cheaper than human delivery” Starship Robotics’ VP shares some startling updates, including that their bots have now gone a full “workday” without any human intervention necessary, that they’ve driven six times as far as Cruise or Waymo, and how they approach legislation. (Speaking of legislation - here’s a map of which states have laws for PDDs.)
Did someone mention Waymo? The AV heavyweight just announced plans to double its robotaxi service areas in Phoenix; it now covers nearly all of Tempe, plus parts of Chandler, Scottsdale, and Mesa. Also interesting is expanded airport access. Expect to see more service in SF and LA relatively soon; looks like the battle for the curb is really heating up…
Trucks! Penske is gobbling up Star Truck Rentals, as the truck and van rental / leasing market continues to grow. That market will only get greener, as a number of new electric heavy duty vehicles just premiered at the ACT Expo in Anaheim, including Daimler’s eM2. CARB also ruled that only zero-emission trucks will be allowed to operate in-state by 2045.
Who’s hungry? Kroger Co. announced a new partnership with Uber Eats, making the grocery giant’s pre-made sushi, dumplings, and poke bowls available for delivery from 1,400 stores nationwide. Also new to the partnership is flower delivery, under Kroger’s “Bloom Haus” brand. We’d be curious if the assortment (and let’s be honest… quality) differs when you’re ordering from a Ralph’s (Kroger’s SoCal brand) versus say a Dillons (Kansas is awfully bar from the sea…) And if you’re a nigiri lover, here’s a great LA Times piece on how sushi made it big in America.
In other food delivery news… Instacart is rolling out new tools to deepen the connection between shopper and customers, four Upper East Side delis were found to be powering a whopping 76 Grubhub listings, Cookin is expanding its home cooked meal delivery service, Chick-fil-A is using geofencing to speed up orders, and meet your new pizza daddy: Papa John’s names a new CMO.
The bus is back in town! The humble intercity bus may not get a lot of love, but it’s a vital part of a green transportation economy, and their usual downtown drop-offs are certainly more curb-friendly than an airport. So it’s exciting to see that Megabus is returning to California and the Pacific Northwest.
Does this mean we can expect a slowdown in shipping vans? D2C ecommerce brands look to be fumbling, with a number of big ecommerce retailers (Bobobos, Eloquii…) showing growing pains. Downstream from that, we’re seeing Shopify sell off parts of its business and cut employees. Downstream from that we’re seeing other ecosystem providers like Klaviyo struggle. Add it all up and it may mean slightly fewer delivery vans on the street over the next few quarters…
Uber’s über Q1: The mobility giant’s Q1 earnings exceeded analysts' expectations, showing improved financial stability as its food delivery business and ride-hailing arms both grew synergistically. The company's revenue reached $8.82 billion, surpassing analyst expectations by around $100 million. Uber's GAAP loss was narrower than expected, and its adjusted profits were higher than anticipated: $761 million. Ride-hailing bookings increased by 40% to $14.98 billion, while food delivery bookings saw a more modest 8% growth to $15.03 billion. While strong ride-hailing results drove investors to rally, Uber’s overall performance speaks to why it's such a tough player to beat in this business. By funneling customers between its two main businesses (mobility and delivery,) and launching new sub-businesses and products within each of those categories, it's able to monetize its customer base in a way that companies that just offer delivery or only do ride-hailing, will struggle to compete with. Select slides from their Q1 data (below) hammer that story home:
Oh those East Coast streets… Boston is ramping up its Neighborhood Open Streets program, with the highlight being that Newbury Street will be pedestrianized every Sunday from 7/2 to 10/15. That’s a nice start, but anyone that’s ever strolled that shopping mecca (or been foolish enough to try driving down it) can tell you that it would be a no brainer to make it permanently car free. Meanwhile in NYC, the city’s plodding trash containerization program might remove 150,000 parking spots. Maybe they should consider using 10x as many containers, just to be safe…
Something new from Harry: Interested in learning about some of the companies Harry is angel investing in and reading his deal memos (for free)? Fill out this form; no upfront commitment; a few goodies in the pipeline.
Friday robotics webinar: Clayton Wood is one of the most well respected voices in the automation industry, having scaled industry stalwart Picnic. Now that he's stepped away from the robotic pizza brand, Clayton will be sharing his thoughts on what comes next for the industry, how to overcome a choppy fundraising environment, what inventions he's most excited about, and more. Tune in, and bring your own questions for this engineer turned MBA; we'll conclude the conversation with an audience Q&A. Register now.
Just a couple more links, I promise! Carlsbad’s “state of emergency” sees road collisions fall. Reimagining Detroit’s historic train station. Also in Detroit: Ford seeing red on EV sales. Eight cities to test cargo bikes (but not Detroit.) Can urbanism save Midwestern small towns? New data on the impact of logistics centers across Europe and North America. Teamsters holding the line against UPS. New tool for delivery accuracy. Other new tool looks to unblock busways. Everee launches Visa for gig workers. NYC transit looks to avoid death spiral, as Governor approves spending on off-peak service.
Until next week!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew