Could outdoor dining become a permanent option in San Diego?


SAN DIEGO – The effort to keep outdoor spaces as permanent fixtures at local restaurants goes before a San Diego City Council committee Thursday.

This spring, city leaders unanimously approved an ordinance extension to allow restaurants businesses to keep operating outdoors until July 2022. But restaurants owners and the customers they serve say they want to keep these outdoor spaces as permanent places.

In the Gaslamp Quarter Wednesday, outdoor dining was alive and well with plenty of people taking in a warm afternoon with a meal.

“I look for places like this, personally,” restaurant customer Donna Smith said. “If the weather’s nice, I like to eat outside.”

The effort to extend the measure will go before the city’s Land Use and Housing Committee Thursday afternoon with the option to make outdoor dining permanent. If recommendations are approved, the measure would go before City Council seeking another approval in the next few months.

“They should make them permanent, especially during the pandemic,” says Sacha Boutros with Il Sogno Italiano. “They should open the street up like in Europe and seat people outside. It’s safer. It’s better.”

San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn told FOX 5 Wednesday that part of the discussion will be about determining rules so that outdoor arrangements could remain.

“For instance, we want to make sure that they’re safe and aren’t at risk of traffic,” Whitburn said. “We want to make sure that they’re fire safe.”

The owner of Il Sogno Italiano says he is all for making safety modifications to make his outdoor space a permanent place but also hopes the city will give businesses a helping hand.

“I agree with modifying it and making it up to the code for the fire and city department,” says Sean Shoja of Il Sogno Italiano. “I totally understand that but as far as the fees. Have the consideration that we’ve gone through this once before.”

The meeting’s agenda is available here.

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