SAN DIEGO — A growing number of restaurants in San Diego want to wall off the parking spots outside their front doors and replace them with tables.
The concept is called a Parklet, and the city of San Diego appears to be ready to embrace it - at least until social distancing mandates lift.
"It's San Diego. We're getting the most beautiful weather of the year. Let us have some seats out there. Let us have some tables," said Merritte Powell, who owns La Puerta restaurant on 4th Avenue.
Powell is readying an application to the city that would allow him to build on a curbside section of the street in front of his restaurant and put more seating. He says it's key to survive amid social distancing restrictions, which have limited his capacity.
In fact, La Puerta even with hourlong waits still only pulls in 50 percent of the revenue it would have made before the Coronavirus outbreak. On bad days, revenue drops by as much as 70 percent.
"Because of the way the seating is, because of the social distancing, stuff like that, I'm nowhere near where I need to be," Powell said.
On July 7, the City Council will consider an urgency ordinance that would waive some fees for Parklets and help streamline their construction.
Restaurants from downtown, Little Italy and North Park are all readying applications.
The opportunity could help level the playing field for restaurants on streets that cannot be closed to vehicle traffic for on-street dining. The city has already permitted road closures on 5th Avenue and India Street for restaurants to expand. A stretch of North Park could be next.
The urgency ordinance would last until social distancing restrictions expire or are lifted.