Over the past couple of years, restaurants throughout the state were not allowed to let customers dine indoors. Many cities, including San Diego, allowed businesses that previously didn’t have areas outdoors for customers to obtain outdoor dining permits. The City of San Diego’s permits have now expired.
So what can restaurants do if they want to continue to offer the option of outdoor dining? They can apply for something called a “Spaces as Places” permit. These two-year permits allow these businesses to continue to offer outdoor dining.
Were businesses given enough time to comply?
This is good news for eateries that have spent thousands of dollars to create outdoor dining spaces, or “streetaries.” However, the city notified businesses in late May that they had to have the new permit or remove their “streetary” by July.
A marketing director for a San Diego restaurant says, “There is definitely not enough notice. You at least need eight, nine months to figure all this out, and we had less than three months.” For example, as she explains, “You have to get a civil engineer to draw the plan, approve the plan, and now you have to decide — are you going to keep the whole space?”
The restaurants that get a Spaces as Places permit are charged an exclusive use fee for their outdoor space than can run as much as $30 per square foot each year, depending on where they’re located.
This has been a difficult period for restaurants in all parts of the country – even here in Southern California where the weather often allows for comfortable outdoor dining throughout the year. Having to deal with new types of permits or deconstruct part of your business can be just one more headache. If you have questions or problems, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.