SAN DIEGO — Temporary outdoor dining permits have expired for small businesses across San Diego.

The City of San Diego gave businesses the option to apply for a new program, which would allow them to continue operating their outdoor spaces. The new “Space as Places” permit gives what was a temporary pandemic response to something more permanent.

A majority of the business in Little Italy will keep their outdoor spaces, including Farmers Table on India Street, which paid $35,000 to build their outdoor patio.

“COVID helped all businesses pivot, and we pivoted to outdoor seating,” said Sara Arjmand, the marketing director for the restaurant. “It’s in demand and people are asking for it.”

Arjmand says they city should have given businesses more time to apply for this new permit.

“There is definitely not enough notice. You at least need eight, nine months to figure all this out, and we had less than three months,” she said.

The city sent out notice to businesses on May 20, telling them how to comply or how to remove their outdoor dining space.

“You have to understand: You have to get a civil engineer to draw the plan, approve the plan, and now you have to decide — are you going to keep the whole space? Now it’s $30 a foot, so it’s not a penny – it’s a big chunk, “ said Arjmand.

According to the city’s website, applicants for streetaries are required to pay an exclusive use fee. Depending on the location, the prices range from $10-$30 per square-foot, per year.

Little Italy is considered as having a “high” and “very-high” access opportunity and businesses will be required to pay $30 per square foot. Since the permit is for two years, that price doubles, which Arjmand says is a high expense for small business owners.

“We had to do so many things already to something that could have all been avoided if the City of San Diego would have given clear guidelines on what was the expectation of these parklets,” she said.

Visit the City of San Diego’s Development Services website to apply for a Spaces As Places permit.