SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Some restaurant owners in San Diego’s coastal areas say there is confusion regarding the new permit that is required to continue with outdoor dining.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of San Diego gave around 500 temporary permits to restaurants and bars to set up outdoor structures. But those permits expire next month.
“It’s tremendously successful all the restaurants were saved, jobs were saved, the restaurants have done very well,” said Phil Wise with the La Jolla Shores Business Association.
Wise spearheaded the effort to create outdoor dining at La Jolla Shores during the pandemic — a block of Avenida de la Playa is closed off to traffic every day so people can eat and enjoy the outdoors.
“It’s one of our favorite places to come and, quite frankly, even more of a favorite place to come since they closed down the street here. It just really gives it a hometown feel,” said local resident Bob Babbitt.
Eating and drinking establishments now have until July 13 to apply for a new Spaces As Places permit, which will include added safety requirements such as size limits, no roof structures, and limited electrical wiring.
Business owners could have to pay thousands of dollars to make modifications under the new permit requirements.
But there’s an extra hurdle for businesses in coastal areas.
“We’re still asking businesses within the coastal areas to apply for the Spaces As Places replacement permit. We just, unfortunately, won’t be able to issue any permits in the coastal area until the Coastal Commission allows us to do that and it allows us to do that by approving the regulations or maybe modifying the regulations as adopted by the City Council,” said Chris Larson, the program coordinator for the City of San Diego.
Wise says a new city permit in The Shores will require hefty engineering and architectural fees and then having to wait and see if it’ll pay off.
“This could run up to $90,000. We’re committed to do this — not knowing whether we get a final permit because the final permit is subject to the Coastal Commission,” said Wise.