Parklets remain popular as pandemic winds down

Posted at 3:01 PM, Jun 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 20:16:21-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As San Diego returns to normal life, one thing that will remain is outdoor dining on city streets. But the city could soon force some key changes.

Fathers Day in Little Italy, and the restaurants filled up fast, including Civico 1845 on India Street.

“We're very busy, we're short staffed, but we're doing the best that we can,” manager Elya Soltero said.

Civico spent $15,000 on the Parklet outside its doors, which includes a roof, a wood floor and foliage. The parquet helped make up for Coronavirus capacity limitations during the pandemic.

Those limits are now lifted, but Civico 1845 still is keeping indoor capacity at 50 percent to keep guests at ease.

“Right now we are still keeping it at six feet and still trying to not put as many people in there just because a lot of people still don’t feel comfortable,” she said.

The parklets were so popular during the pandemic that in may the San Diego City Council voted to extend on-street outdoor dining through July 13, 2022.

The issue was that many restaurants - including Civico - built parklets that went far beyond the smaller versions the city anticipated. Having a rooftop is a code violation, the city says.

Restaurants have until July 13 this year to get their parklets into compliance or risk their permit being revoked.

"If we're able to keep this and we're able to hire more people I think that eventually we'll go back to the new normal, which this is going to be the new normal,” Soletro said.

And to Little Italy regulars like Josh Villalvazo, that would be welcome news, year round.

“San Diego has the best weather in the country, it's the best city in the world,” he said.

Later this year the city is expected to unveil a program called Spaces as Places that could make outdoor dining permanent.

Meanwhile, the city has said it would work with individual businesses to get them into compliance by that July 13, 2021 deadline.