Update: “Spaces as Places” applications for outdoor dining are being addressed in the coastal region, San Diego says

With permits for outdoor dining operations to expire on July 13 after about three weeks, San Diego officials are trying to establish lasting clarity about what will happen next amid the ongoing confusion in La Jolla.

Food and drink establishments that have a temporary permit and a registered application for a permanent permit under the city’s new “Spaces as Places” program will not be penalized after July 13, said Chris Larson, program coordinator for the City Development Services Department, pending a review of their applications. Those who do not apply for a permanent permit, or are denied upon review, will have to remove their offshore facility.

The city created temporary outdoor operating permits, called TOBO, under an emergency measure during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow businesses to use parking spaces on city streets and other outdoor public spaces to help keep them operating and limit the spread of the coronavirus. . The popularity and success of such installations led to the City Council in October approving the spaces as places to transition temporary spaces into permanent ones. Businesses must comply with the new regulations in order to be granted clearance within “spaces” as places.

The city began accepting applications for permits for the Spaces as venues in January. However, in coastal areas like La Jolla, Spaces as Places cannot be applied until it has been reviewed and approved by the California Coastal Commission because the law requires a change in local coastal programs, which act as planning documents for coastal communities. No date has been set for this review. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for July 13-15.

“We accept applications for Spaces as a Places Everywhere program in the city,” Larson said. “We intend to continue reviewing applications for space subscriptions as places in coastal areas.”

He noted that the city will not be able to issue permits in the coastal area until the Coastal Commission approves the regulations.

“However, we are aiming to allow … companies with temporary offshore business operating permits to continue to use the outdoor areas they have been using, and the code will not be enforced until such time as we can either issue the replacement spaces as per the venues permit or the offshore areas they have been using,” Larson said: We … have decided that we cannot issue those permits because they do not comply with regulations adopted by the city council or … amended by the Coast Commission.”

Acknowledging that there may be some time before the Coast Commission decides, Larson said the city “isn’t going to tell these companies to remove their temporary outdoor operations. We want more continuity of their business.”

The organizers of the La Jolla Shores al fresco dining program on the Avenida de la Playa are trying to transition to a permanent road closure.

(Elizabeth Frausto)

However, he emphasized that law enforcement will issue violation quotes for companies that do not have a TOBO or apply for spaces such as a venue permit or do not comply with certain rules, such as prohibiting rooftop structures or electrical wires crossing sidewalks.

Larson encouraged the companies to offer Spaces as “just in time” applications, in which city engineers have to review plans for approval. In addition, there will be fees for permits and inspections, as well as a fee per square foot according to the Climate Equality Map, Larson said.

“We accept applications for Spaces as Places Everywhere in the City program. We intend to continue reviewing applications for Spaces as Places in coastal areas.”

— Chris Larson, San Diego Department of Development Services Program Coordinator

Business owners in the coastal area have expressed confusion and frustration about conflicting information about whether the city will accept and process permits within spaces as places before the Coastal Commission audits.

City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, previously said the city does not accept spaces as applications for places in the coastal zone prior to coastal commission review and that these businesses should instead apply for a right-of-way permit.

Larson explained that there are not only one spaces as places allow. “Spaces as Places is a program that includes several different options for how to provide outdoor dining,” he said:

• The sidewalk café, consisting of tables and chairs on the sidewalk, often surrounded by a permanent railing. Larson said business improvement areas — such as those operated by the La Jolla Village Merchants Association — have been authorized for years to issue permits for sidewalk cafes that only have tables and chairs. A sidewalk café with handrails requires a building permit because it is a permanent attachment to the sidewalk and is usually required by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to determine where alcohol is served.

• “Active sidewalk”, where the sidewalk is pushed outward or extended into a street parking lane

• “Streetary” – most popular under TOBO – which places outdoor dining in street parking spaces

Larson said: • The Promenade, which involves blocking the street making it “more of a pedestrian mall”

Those planning an active sidewalk, street, or corniche must apply for a right-of-way permit within ‘spaces’ as places.

• Outdoor dining on private property to replace privately owned off-street parking with different requirements, depending on whether the business is in what the city calls a “transport priority area.” Commercial planning for outdoor dining in a private parking lot needs to apply for a building permit.

Larson said the Department of Development Services has created a “small business and restaurant assistance team” dedicated to helping businesses through the process. For more details about spaces as places, visit sandiego.gov/spaces-as-places.

LaCava’s office has indicated that it is working with the mayor’s office to ensure a solution to the La Jolla Shores outdoor dining program, which will consider a park beneath the spaces as venues. Its organizers have expressed frustration with unclear protocols and what some have described as the exorbitant costs of relocation.

Phil Wise, who launched The Shores outdoor dining program in July 2020 to close one building of the Avenida de la Playa for restaurant use, told the La Jolla Shores Association on June 8 that the total costs associated with the new permit would approach six figures. ◆

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