EXPANDED OUTDOOR DINING NOW INCLUDES USE OF ON-STREET PARKING FOR BUSINESSES, WAIVES PERMIT FEES FOR ABOUT 500 BUSINESSES TO AID IN ECONOMIC RECOVERY
SAN DIEGO – Continuing to deliver relief to San Diego restaurants and retail businesses impacted by COVID-19, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer won unanimous City Council approval Tuesday to expand outdoor dining and retail options for local businesses as they recovery amid a global pandemic.
The vote follows Mayor Faulconer’s July 7 Executive Order which waived permitting and parking requirements for the temporary use of sidewalks and private parking lots as outdoor dining and retail venues to increase space for physical distancing by patrons and employees. This vote not only cements protocols enacted under the Executive Order but also allows businesses to utilize adjacent on-street parking to operate while also waiving a majority of permitting fees, allowing businesses to transition faster and recover sooner.
“Our local restaurant and retail owners have shown incredible resolve and resilience throughout this pandemic. Many of those small businesses have been among the hardest hit and San Diegans are ready to support them safely and responsibly,” Mayor Faulconer said. “The response we’ve seen to outdoor dining has been overwhelmingly positive, and this ordinance opens up so many more options for our small businesses as they work hard to rebound and recover.”
Recent state directives have further limited indoor activities, placing additional burdens on businesses that have already made significant investments to follow reopening health requirements, including staff training and additional protective equipment. This directive is expected to affect up to 4,000 restaurants in San Diego, which employ more than 55,000 individuals in the City.
The ordinance will encourage eateries and retail to recover lost revenue by transforming into “streateries” and “streetail” by allowing businesses to expand onto on-street parking spaces, sidewalks and parking lots. There is no Development Services Department application or fee for a business to expand operations into a private parking lot.
Previously, securing an outdoor Sidewalk Café permit could cost businesses more than $1,000 and take several months to process. This ordinance will help reduce applicant costs and streamline the review process to deliver relief faster, expediting San Diego’s economic recovery while prioritizing San Diegans’ health.
“Small businesses account for 98 percent of San Diego companies. Needless to say, the impact COVID-19 is having on our small, independent, and family-owned businesses is monumental. Outdoor dining gives businesses a fighting chance to make it another day, and I applaud Mayor Faulconer for his innovative efforts,” said City Councilmember Chris Cate, Chair of the Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
Additionally, Mayor Faulconer’s ordinance allocates $300,000 to further assist businesses by absorbing permitting costs for the first 500 businesses that apply with remaining applicants paying significantly reduced fees. Part of the funding allocation is specifically for outreach and education on the program for small and disadvantaged businesses to help them successfully participate in this temporary program.
The City will enter into a nonprofit agreement with the Strategic Alliance of San Diego Ethnic Chambers of Commerce – a team comprised of the Asian Business Association of San Diego, the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, and the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – to provide informational materials in multiple languages, target hard-to-reach communities and disadvantaged businesses, and coordinate the distribution of information with community partners.
“The Strategic Alliance of Ethnic Chambers of Commerce is proud to support Mayor Faulconer’s expansion of outdoor dining,” said Donna DeBerry, who represents the Strategic Alliance of Ethnic Chambers of Commerce. “Working together to support communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 will help restaurants in these communities recover and continue to contribute to this vibrant economic and cultural landscape in San Diego.”
Upon implementation the Mayor’s ordinance will:
- Allow outdoor business operations for dining and retail in parking lots, on-street parking spaces, and sidewalks as well as neighboring business frontage with written permission of neighboring business owner
- Waive parking requirements so businesses can make use of private parking lots to place dining furniture and displays, among other retail operations
- Streamline and cut red tape for sidewalk cafés
- Allow “Pedestrian Plazas” to take over on-street parking for expanded outdoor dining and retail
- Allow business improvement districts to issue Sidewalk Café permits for an expanded area of the sidewalk
- Waive special event permit fees to allow nonprofit applicants to close streets and conduct business outdoors faster and cheaper
- Waive special event application processing fees, late fees, and fire inspection fees for street closures
- Retroactive fee waivers for applicants that were previously approved for an outdoor dining special event permit after May 1, 2020
- Broaden allowances and reduce required permit for temporary signs so that small businesses can place banners, A-frame signage in the right of way, public health reminders, and other informational signs outdoors on sidewalks while maintaining ADA access
- Allow for expanded wholesale distribution of food, beverages, and groceries directly to consumers while allowing for social distancing
- Preserve mobility, safety and emergency access for pedestrians, and preserve requirements that ADA access and path of travel be maintained at all times
- Require full compliance with all State and County Health Orders and guidance
More information on outdoor dining and retail requirements and how to apply for a permit can be found on the Development Services Department website.