SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A proposal aimed at making it easier for restaurants in San Diego to open sidewalk cafes was unanimously passed Wednesday by the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee.
The plan is part of a series of zoning amendments that were considered by the committee. Since some members had questions that couldn't immediately be answered on other issues in the package, they were all sent to the full City Council without a recommendation on whether they should be approved.
For the sidewalk cafes, committee chair Lorie Zapf said restaurant owners face a lengthy, expensive and unpredictable permitting process under the current city code.
The proposal would allow a single row of tables within 4 feet 6 inches of an eatery as long as a clear 5-foot-wide path of travel on the sidewalk is maintained. Community planning groups could establish a wider path, according to city staff.
Within that 5-foot or wider space, a straight visual corridor at least 3 feet wide would have to be maintained. No barrier, like an expensive wrought iron fence, would be required.
Staff said outdoor dining would be prohibited after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Smoking and outdoor music would be banned.
Zapf said smaller eateries that want to add a few tables outside are faced with paying fees totaling upward of $10,000 before construction costs.
The proposal before the committee, she said, is designed to reduce costs and time for eatery owners. An annual fee of $123 would cover the cost of inspections.
The committee also approved an adjustment to zoning regulations to allow craft brewers to open restaurants and tasting rooms. That proposal will also go before the City Council at a later date for final approval.