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New permit required for restaurants with outdoor dining parklets

The deadline to apply is fast approaching
Posted at 9:13 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 00:13:56-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — The temporary program that has allowed restaurants downtown to create outdoor dining areas during the pandemic is coming to an end.

If San Diego restaurants wish to continue utilizing these spaces, they will need a new permit from the city. The deadline to apply is next month, however, according to the City of San Diego Development Department, only 25 restaurants have submitted an application so far.

Joey Busalacchi, the owner of Barbusa in Little Italy, says his restaurant was one of the first to apply.

"This parklet has been phenomenal for us,” he said.

Busalacchi explains these temporary outdoor dining patios have enabled many restaurants like his to stay afloat during the pandemic. But now, customers and restaurants alike want the patios to become permanent.

"Most of our people love to dine al fresco. Which has given them the opportunity to take in the summer weather and great atmosphere,” he said.

Busalacchi says his business is grateful the city is open to the idea of continuing the parklets, but the new permits do require restaurants to meet stricter regulations.

"We want to make sure that it's safe,” said Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, District 3, City of San Diego.

For example, restaurants will not be allowed to build permanent overhead structures in their parklets.

"We don't want for instance…heating sources to be next to umbrellas…because that could start a fire,” said Whitburn.

The permits will also regulate how large and in what areas the parklets can continue to operate. And for some, the price of a permit won’t be cheap.

"We've estimated ours is going to cost about $35,000 for two years. It's a pretty penny to pay,” said Busalacchi.

The price is based on square footage. Busalacchi added it's likely he'll have to modify parts of their patio to meet the new requirements. Despite the costs and construction, he believes it will be worth it in the long run.

"They're doing a great job trying to help these small businesses."