SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Three San Diego City Council members announced Thursday that they plan to overhaul regulations that make it difficult for restaurant owners to offer outdoor dining.
At a news conference at the OB Noodle House in Ocean Beach, Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said restaurant owners face a lengthy, expensive and unpredictable permitting process under the current city code.
One proposal calls for a "sidewalk cafe" option for restaurants, which would be allowed a single row of tables within 4 feet 6 inches of the building as long as a clear path of travel on the sidewalk is maintained, without a barrier in between. The idea is set to go to the Planning Commission next month and the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee -- chaired by Zapf -- in March.
"For smaller restaurants which simply want to add a few tables outside, like the OB Noodle House, fees that are upwards of $10,000 before construction costs, are an impossible ask by the city," Zapf said. "The proposal coming before my committee would significantly reduce the costs and time associated with adding a small sidewalk cafe, allowing neighborhood restaurants to add a few more tables to accommodate more business."
Council President Todd Gloria, who represents eatery-laden downtown, Hillcrest and North Park, said he is on board with the idea.
Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who represents coastal areas of the city, said with San Diego' great weather, the city shouldn't penalize restaurants patronized by people who want to devour their meals outdoors.
The council members noted a report released by the California Restaurant Association this week that said San Diego's 3,300 eateries rang up an estimated $2.9 billion in sales last year.