SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An influential group of San Diego restaurants is asking Gov. Newsom to step in to allow them to keep their outdoor parklets intact for another year.
The Little Italy Association sent a letter to the governor Wednesday asking him to use his emergency powers to allow their outdoor dining parklets to keep their rooftops and not be scaled down. The city of San Diego, citing federal, state and local fire codes, gave the restaurants an Aug. 2 deadline to make the necessary changes to the parklets. That includes removing permanent rooftops and eliminating the portions that block red curbs.
"To remove the rooftops at this time will create great financial hardship to our businesses based upon the cost of removal and disposal, as well as the inconvenience this will have on restaurants as we head into the Fall and Winter months," said the letter, signed by owners of 30 restaurants.
When the pandemic hit, the city issued temporary permits to allow businesses to set up shop on city sidewalks and streets. It released a bare-bones model of an acceptable parklet, showing tables on asphalt and metal barriers. But some restaurants spent upwards of $40,000 to $50,000 outfitting their parklets with wooden roofs and creature comforts, which the city never intended. The city says cloth umbrellas and canopies are acceptable shade structures.
Earlier this year, the City Council voted to extend outdoor operations through July 13, 2022, giving an original deadline for July 13, 2021 to get them into compliance. This week, the city extended that deadline to Aug. 2.
A spokeswoman for the governor's office said Thursday that Newsom has already given cities the authority to alter zoning codes to support outdoor dining operations through the end of 2021. But LiMandri said city officials told him that clearance does not apply to building codes.
In a statement, the city said it would work with businesses on outdoor dining and that safety is its top priority.
"The City of San Diego will continue to work with businesses to educate and inform and make sure the City's right of way can be used for outdoor dining with the appropriate permits. Safety is also our top priority, and the City is following the guidance given to us by Cal State Fire," the statement said. "The City has been consistent that no permanent overhead structures are allowed in the Public right of way. We recently gave businesses more time to adhere to the policy and will continue to work with them in the best interest for all."
The city also has a grant opportunity to offset the cost of altering parklets to make them compliant.