Outdoor dining compliance checks begin in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego city officials Monday began cracking down on outdoor dining structures, making sure they’re up to code and safe.

Many businesses got a visit from deputy fire marshals making those compliance checks, which include making sure businesses have a “temporary outdoor business operation” permit. It also means the roofs and tents on many structures will have to come down.

Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Tosca says crews are checking out those spaces, educating owners on the steps they need to take to get up to code.

“People are at 100% occupancy indoors now,” Tosca said. “This was meant to be temporary – so we’re going to focus on your safety and what’s in compliance with the code.”

The owner of Pizza Lounge in the Gaslamp Quarter says he is glad inspectors come in to tell them what’s going on, rather than finding out at the last minute. He says he now has to take down his tents.

“At least they’re giving you a period of time,” he said. “We cannot complain. By the end of the day, we have to follow the rules.”

And nearby at Urban India, the owner says he’ll have to tear down his tents and make changes to his deck, which will not come cheap.

“The way they want it, it’s going to cost a lot with permits and new deck,” he said. “Construction fees are really high right now. I got 2 to 3 quotes, they were over like $30k.”

Businesses with permits will have about a month to get into compliance. If changes aren’t made, that results in violations and penalties up to $300 for each violation.

Owners say they’ll do what it takes to hold on to their outdoor spaces.

“I have to follow what they say,” the Pizza Lounge owner said. “Because I don’t want them to keep coming, giving me citation or violation.”

Tosca says they have to do their job, but want to make sure they do it in an “educational way and give people the opportunity to make it right.”

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