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Businesses excited San Diego will make outdoor dining permanent

Permits are expected to be available for the city's new Spaces as Places program for outdoor dining setups on San Diego streets and sidewalks

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Enjoying the option of outdoor dining, Broken Yolk Cafe manager Braulio Hernandez says his outdoor patio setup saved his business.

“It has helped out a lot during the pandemic when it was closed,” said Hernandez, whose restaurant is in the Gaslamp Quarter at Sixth and J Streets.

The San Diego City Council adopted the "Spaces as Places Program" as a way to make temporary outdoor dining and other public space uses become permanent.

"People love dining outside, and even as we move to hopefully a post-pandemic world, we see other benefits to having these types of uses,” said City of San Diego Planning Deputy Director Heidi Vonblum.

All temporary outdoor dining operations permits will expire by July 13, 2022, so businesses will have to reapply.

“Most of these permits should be able to be issued under what we call over-the-counter or by right,” said Vonblum.

The city has a full design guideline for the program that will give businesses options to create outdoor areas for dining, walking, biking and other activities. 

The goal is to work with each establishment when it comes to parking and sidewalk issues. Business owners will have to pay for a new permit.

“The application fees do include what is called, an exclusive use fee for the use of the public’s right of way, and those fees range from $10 per square foot to $30 per square foot per year depending on the location of the city,” Vonblum said.

Hernandez says he'll do whatever it takes to keep his outdoor space as is.

"Families come out they enjoy the sun, so they love it. Every time we have a line out of the door, people actually prefer to sit outside now instead of sitting inside,” Hernandez said.

The city of San Diego Spaces as Places program is open to all businesses just 30 days after the city council has the second reading of the ordinance, and that is to take place next month.

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