Outdoor operating spaces have become common items on the streets of San Diego and have proven to be lifeguards for many restaurants and businesses that have survived the coronavirus pandemic.
“It kept things going,” Thomas Patterson, manager of The Barn in North Park, told Parklet Food Spaces. “All the seats that we have inside, we were able to put them here. Our bartenders, our cooks, we were able to keep our jobs and keep the business going.
Now, the park’s dining rooms could become permanent facilities, but not without a host of new restrictions and regulations that some say will complicate matters for business owners.
“I think it will be a challenge and one more thing that many restaurateurs need to do and understand, but [it will also be] necessary in terms of safety, ”said Alia Jaziri, owner of Medina Moroccan-Baja Kitchen.
The city of San Diego is currently working on a plan to develop a program that would allow business owners to permanently extend their outdoor space permits.
City leaders presented four possible permit options in an online workshop Thursday:
- Streetaries: outdoor spaces created in areas formerly dedicated to car parks which serve as an extension of the restaurant or bar. Also known as a parklet.
- Social curbs: Permanent extension of the curb into the parking lane to facilitate a variety of activities such as recreational and outdoor meals.
- Outdoor dining on private property: outdoor dining in the car parks of an authorized catering establishment.
- Promenade: partial or total closure of the street to automobile traffic to facilitate walking, cycling, recreation and outdoor dining.
To get a license for any of these options, business owners will need to meet certain requirements and pay a fee. Tariffs have not yet been set and neither have the requirements, but ideas have been launched.
For example, to obtain a “street” permit, the city suggests that business owners ensure that the structure maintains sight lines and visibility greater than 42 inches, is at least 20 feet from a distance. intersection and has no ceiling.
Jaziri said these were requirements that had not been enforced or discussed when the companies were initially given temporary permits to set up outside. This means that some business owners who have already built structures will have to rebuild them to comply with the code.
“The city kind of had guidelines but they weren’t enforced and there wasn’t anything you necessarily had to build,” Jaziri said. “The permit allowed you to use this space but did not necessarily approve structures per se.”
Nothing is set for the moment. The city said it hopes to hear from the business owners before going ahead with the plan.