San Diego releases outdoor dining proposal in Little Italy

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Posted at 2:39 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 20:27:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The City of San Diego is working to transform Little Italy into an outdoor dining experience.

They're streamlining the process for shops and restaurants to serve more customers while promoting social distancing under a new outdoor dining and shopping proposal.

Marla Encinas had to close her Little Italy clothing boutique, Valmare, for two months.

"We tried to do online selling but its definitely not the same," said Encinas.

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The store is back open now under new rules about cleaning, capacity and social distancing.

But, for any business, fewer customers often means less revenue. The city of San Diego is trying to change that.

On Thursday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced a proposal to waive fees and fast-track the permit process to bring restaurants and shops outdoors.

"They’ll be allowed to maximize outdoor space to allow physical distancing and expand the number of customers they can serve," said Faulconer.

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Encinas says her store is definitely on board.

"I think its going to be really cool to be outside in the open air and be able to bring out our business," said Encinas.

With approved permits, businesses can set up tables and chairs or racks of clothes and other items on sidewalks, streets, and parking lots.

"I would love to do both jewelry and clothing," said Encinas. "I would love to bring out summer stuff because the weather is so nice, people are starting to slowly go out."

Last Saturday, Little Italy had their first al-fresco dining event on India Street.

By adding retail shops in the mix, more businesses will get a much-needed chance to bounce back from Covid-19.

"It's going to be very fun," said Encinas. "You’re going to have a bunch of different vendors, it's going to be different than your typical shopping experience."

Businesses can apply for the outdoor dining permits on the city's website. The proposal is going before city council for approval during the first week of July.