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City extends deadline for San Diego restaurants to bring parklets up to code

Posted at 4:10 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 20:22:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego restaurants are breathing a sigh of relief after the city announced it has extended the deadline to bring outdoor dining parklets up to code.

Businesses owners would have faced daily fines of up to $10,000 if they did not scale back their parklets for outdoor dining by Tuesday, before the city extended the deadline to Aug. 2.

In a statement on Temporary Outdoor Business Operation (TOBO) structures, a city spokesperson said:

"In an effort to work with our clients and give businesses more time to meet the guidelines and enforcement of TOBO structures, the City has decided to begin enforcement on Monday, Aug. 2. Business owners are acutely focused on reopening and attracting clientele and the city would like to support these efforts through the month of July. This will allow the city and business associations more time to communicate with impacted businesses. Every TOBO permittee and business group will be sent a communication this week to make them aware of the extension."

The city has set that deadline for restaurants to bring their parklets within federal, state and local fire codes. To do that, restaurants would have remove their permanent rooftops and move the portion of their parklets that block red curbs, among other requirements. The city has extended temporary outdoor permits through July 13, 2022, but originally gave a July 13, 2021 deadline to get up to code.

On India Street in Little Italy on Monday, most of the restaurant parklets were unchanged. However, at Cloak & Petal, managing partner Cesar Vallin invested $15,000 to rebuild the entire parklet, without a roof and with an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramp. That came after the restaurant spent the same amount of money to build a parklet with a metal roof earlier in the pandemic.

"Look up and down the block," Vallin said. "You're asking owners and businesses to spend more money to remove something that we were granted at the beginning."

When the pandemic hit, the city issued temporary permits for businesses to set up on sidewalks and streets. It issued 435 permits, but never expected businesses to build elaborate structures, some costing up to $50,000. The city had posted bare bones examples online, showing metal barriers and tables on the asphalt.

One restaurant owner with an out-of-compliant parklet said Monday she'd do what it takes to get any issue corrected, but would not have that done by Tuesday. Another restaurant owner said he would take a wait-and-see approach, depending on what neighbors do.

In Hillcrest, restaurants like Baja Betty's are using cloth canopies to shade customers, which is allowed.

"if you were paying attention at those early meetings at the start of the pandemic, they were saying no roofs, they were saying these won't be permanent," said Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Association. "So the city actually on this item has been pretty clear with us."

The city is expected to release a permanent outdoor business plan this fall, called Spaces as Places.

This article has been updated to reflect the city's announcement on Tuesday to extend the deadline.