LITTLE ITALY, Calif. (KGTV) — The temporary permits that allowed restaurants to operate outdoor dining areas during the pandemic expire this week.
Businesses have until July 13 to apply and pay for new outdoor operating permits under the city's Spaces as Places program.
David Rodger, the Corporate Marketing Officer of Filippi's, said their outdoor dining area in Little Italy helped them overcome pandemic restrictions.
"It's very impactful. It's helped everyone," Rodger said.
The new program requires restaurants to pay between $20 to $60 per square foot for a two-year permit.
Rodger said for them, that's more than $24,000.
He said it's a pretty hefty price for an industry that's dealing with high costs and staffing shortages.
"Between inflation and paying overtime, it's killing the restaurant industry," he said.
The fee structure is based on a business's location according to the city's "climate equity index," which is something else Rodger said he doesn't understand.
"I don't understand how the determination in communities with the numbers of trees, numbers of people that don't ride public transit or don't have access to public transit have a barring upon restaurants in Little Italy or Gaslamp," Rodger said.
Rodger said he's voiced his concerns to city officials but has not received an explanation yet.
Still, Rodger said the restaurant submitted an application to keep its outdoor dining deck.
However, he believes the fees should be reduced, and all restaurants should be charged the same square-foot fee.
"I think the city needs to reevaluate. We're not out of a pandemic. We still have huge amounts of people staying at home and not going out," He said.
Rodger said he plans to speak at Monday's city council meeting about his concerns. 10News also reached out to the city but has not heard back yet.
Any business that does not apply for the new permit by July 13 must remove its outdoor dining area.