ENCINITAS, Calif. — Pandemic relief put in place to help some businesses may now be hurting others along Coast Highway in Encinitas.
“We sit here and we just think about what are we going to do? We’re just losing money,” said Raul Villamar, owner of Encinitas Barbers.
Designated dining areas along Coast Highway have come with a loss of parking and Villamar says his barber shop is struggling as a result.
“I’m down 30 to 40% during the weekdays, on the weekends nobody wants to come here because of the bad parking. I’m down about 40 to 50% on the weekends,” Villamar said.
Outdoor dining has been allowed to take up space on city streets across California as part of Assembly Bill 61, which provided sweeping pandemic relief in 2021.
“I feel for them, I really feel for them. During those beginning months and maybe the first year, year-and-a-half, I was all for helping them in any way,” said Vicki Bass, owner of Encinitas Coin and Jewelry.
However many of the surrounding shops that aren’t restaurants share concerns over the ongoing lack of parking.
“It’s gone on too long,” Bass said.
Restaurants on the other hand have been thankful for the boost to business.
“Everybody has nice feedback from people and the city has to take that into consideration as well,” said Maurizio Carbone, owner of Maurizio Trattoria Italiana.
In the last year, restaurants in Little Italy had to pay permitting fees to keep outdoor dining and San Diego coastal communities like La Jolla have been required to replace any parking they occupy on public streets.
Those rules have not extended to Encinitas.
“From what I’ve seen Friday, Saturday, Sunday everybody gets busy,” Carbone said.
Dining areas observed on Friday afternoon and evening were a mixed bag: some busy, some breakfast spots were already closed for the day and some were open, but empty.
Businesses overall are looking for some compromise from the city.
“Give everybody equal opportunity to have business,” Bass said.
The city of Encinitas told FOX 5 they are following Assembly Bill 61 which runs until January 2024. The city currently does not have a set date to remove the outdoor dining.
There is also a proposal to add parking in downtown Encinitas that will be considered in the coming months.