SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV) – A temporary program that allowed downtown restaurants to set up outdoor dining areas during the pandemic is drawing to a close.
If San Diego restaurants wish to continue using these spaces, they will need a new permit from the city. The application deadline is next month, however, according to the San Diego City Development Department, only 25 restaurants have submitted an application so far.
Joey Busalacci, owner of Barbusa in Little Italy, says his restaurant was one of the first to place orders.
“This park was exceptional for us,” he said.
Busalacci explains that these temporary outdoor dining spaces have enabled many restaurants like his to stay afloat during the pandemic. But now, customers and restaurants alike want the courtyards to become permanent.
“Most people like to eat outdoors,” he said, “which gave them the opportunity to enjoy the summer weather and the great weather.”
Busalacci says his business is grateful that the city is open to the idea of continuing to create the parks, but the new permits are already requiring restaurants to meet stricter regulations.
“We want to make sure it’s safe,” said council member Stephen Whitbourne, District 3, City of San Diego.
For example, restaurants will not be allowed to build permanent superstructures in their small gardens.
“We don’t want for example… the heating sources to be next to the awnings… because that could start a fire,” Whitbourne said.
The permits will also regulate the size and in what areas the parks can continue to operate. And for some, the pass price won’t come cheap.
“We estimated it would cost about $35,000 for two years,” Busalacci said. “It’s a pretty penny to pay.”
Price based on square feet. Busalacci added that he will likely have to modify parts of his yard to meet the new requirements. Despite the costs and construction, he believes it will be worth it in the long run.
“They are doing an amazing job trying to help these small businesses.”