SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Kevin Faulconer today signed an emergency executive order that allows restaurants throughout the city to operate outside effective immediately.
Notable parts of the order include allowing restaurants to establish sidewalk cafes and use private parking lots for dining.
Restaurants must still comply with county and state ordinances, including following ADA requirements for sidewalk cafes. Businesses also can’t have live music or allow customers to vape.
Indoor dining will be closed for at least the next three weeks after the county remained on the state's monitoring list for three consecutive days, leading all indoor operations to be halted at a variety of businesses, including restaurants, where county health officials say many of the recent outbreaks occurred.
Last month, Faulconer proposed waiving fees and permits to allow businesses to expand into parking lots, sidewalks and on-street parking spaces, a move intended to maximize social distancing for employees and customers by stretching operations into outdoor spaces.
In a statement announcing the executive order, Faulconer said, "Given that the state's new shutdown order has an immediate impact on local businesses, this action will provide relief while the city is finalizing a new ordinance for council approval that will cut fees and streamline permits to make it easier for businesses to operate outdoors."
The San Diego City Council is expected to consider an ordinance regarding the permit regulations at a meeting next week.
“It will reduce fees, it will wave and streamline permits,” said Faulconer. “It will allow for outdoor dining plazas, and it will allow businesses, in addition to operating in parking lots and sidewalks, to safely expand operations into on-street parking.”
“It’s really a lifesaver for these businesses,” said Benjamin Nicholls, the Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association. “I’m hearing relief, I’m hearing that the mayor turned out to be the partner that the restaurant community wanted him to be.”
Nicholls has been pushing the city also to allow dining in parking lanes. He said that could be an answer for restaurants that don’t have enough sidewalk or parking lot space, like in Hillcrest and North Park.
He is thrilled that the council will consider approving the proposal to include parking lanes next week.
”Putting it in the parking lane can really save some of these businesses,” he said.
Also Tuesday, Poway City Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve a proposal by Mayor Steve Vaus to buy outdoor picnic tables.
The tables will be used by restaurants in need to help them move business outdoors. Vaus plans to use funding from the CARES Act to purchase the tables.
Vaus added that no permits will be required to use the tables on sidewalks or in private parking lots and that they are expected to be distributed this week.
Once restaurants are finished using them, the tables will be moved to local parks in Poway.
“I think this is kind of a no brainer win-win type of situation I would love to see more picnic tables in our parks eventually, and so that's a great thing. And to do every little thing that we can to help our local businesses,” said Deputy Mayor Caylin Frank.