SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Wednesday evening was another busy night with a packed parking lot at Mona Lisa Italian Foods in San Diego's popular Little Italy neighborhood.
"We're lucky enough to have our own parking lot and we have often discussed expanding outdoor patio into a few of the more spots,” said Stefano Brunetto, whose family owns Mona Lisa Italian Foods.
Businesses like Brunetto's would've had to worry about how many spots they had to keep open to do that, but they won't have to at the start of next year.
"Businesses have changed, business models have changed,” said Alyssa Muto, the Director of Sustainability & Mobility for City Of San Diego.
The City of San Diego voted on Tuesday to get rid of the minimum parking space requirement for many businesses.
This could be used for businesses in the city with their own private lots located near mass transit or in small shopping plazas near heavy residential areas.
"What we saw with COVID is, with outdoor dining, if you weren't right up against a street for those outdoor dining opportunities, you would need to use some of your parking lot,” Muto said. “We did waive those parking requirements to allow for outdoor dining.”
The hope is that this could be used by other businesses with their own parking lots, not those serving up food for the masses.
"So this will make it more permanent to allow for the re-purposing not just for dining, but maybe moving some of your sales outside,” Muto said. “Maybe putting in some park space or eating space for your employees."
The city says this is another tool, not a requirement, to trade surplus spots into added attractions for customers. Some businesses see this as a benefit but, it’s something that would need to be weighed.
"In regard to that, it needs to be a balancing for customers coming down here to be able to find parking,” Brunetto said. “At the same time, the restaurants did get hit pretty hard by the pandemic."
While the city says business are still able to do that, there's also hope this will encourage San Diego to use more public transit to be more eco-friendly.
"As we link people together with jobs and shopping to residential areas and transit, it will help us to achieve our climate goals of greenhouse gas emissions tied with driving our car,” Muto said.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce told ABC 10News that it supports the policy change seeing that it gives businesses flexibility and ability to thrive.