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Restaurants like Son of a Toast in North Park set up temporary outdoor dining structures during the COVID-19 pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Outdoor dining structures helped many restaurants and bars in San Diego survive the pandemic. But they’re slated to go away in a couple months unless the City Council intervenes.

MacKenzie Elmer reports that Mayor Todd Gloria wants to make outdoor dining a permanent feature in San Diego.

In the meantime, city staff are preparing for the possibility that those same structures will need to be vetted before becoming permanent. To put it another way: they gotta get up to code.

Some businesses appear to have gotten carried away last year, adding features that the original permit didn’t include. Awnings, canvas, tufted metal roofs that you see — all are technically unpermitted and therefore illegal.

Outdoor dining got rolling last summer when then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer used his executive power to waive the necessary permits on public rights of way. From the beginning, though, the city viewed outdoor dining as simply a picnic (with tables and chairs) that stretched onto sidewalks and parking spots. 

Faulconer was able to do this thanks to his emergency powers. Any long-term changes require the support of the City Council. 

Interestingly, the city’s director of Development Services said officials have gotten almost no complaints about the loss of parking spots to diners. 

Bearing Witness to Politics

We published a big story last week about facial recognition, and in the Sacramento Report on Friday explained why biometric surveillance is a topic you’re likely to hear much more about

For starters, there’s a bill in the Legislature that seeks to mitigate the discrimination built into algorithms that make decisions at all levels of society, not just policing but health care, housing, education and more. A group of activists is also suing a company for allegedly stockpiling the data of billions of people without their knowledge or permission. 

Elsewhere in the Capitol, state Sen. Ben Hueso is lobbying for binational infrastructure projects to address the sewage at the border. It’s put him at odds with local officials who think the money would be better spent on the U.S. side. 

And finally, San Diego native and gubernatorial candidate John Cox’s bear stunt appears to have worked too well. He complained to a Bay area reporter that all his press coverage revolved around the 1,000-pound animal he was dragging around. On the podcast, Scott Lewis and Sara Libby talk about the election and drop some California bear trivia. Maya Srikrishnan and Adriana Heldiz also joined the show to talk about a new batch of video explainers from our series San Diego 101.

And in this week’s Politics Report, Scott Lewis breaks down the latest on, what else, the status of schools in the fall. Plus: The mayor appears to be backtracking on his plan to cut library hours.

In Other News

Homicides in San Diego County have jumped about 35 percent. (Union-Tribune)

The vaccination super stations across the county have recently seen major drops in the number of people getting vaccinated. (10News)

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego has been outspoken in pushing back against critics who say President Joe Biden and other politicians who support abortion rights should be denied Communion. (Associated Press)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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