Restaurant goers in Little Italy eat under temporary structures as cars pas by on India St.
Restaurant-goers in Little Italy eat under temporary structures as cars pas by on India Street. / Photo by Megan Wood

A lot of parking spots were taken away last year when the city of San Diego let restaurants move their business outside temporarily.

The thinking at the time was that eating outside was safer (which turned out to be true) and business owners could use parking spots outside their doors to keep customers around and business afloat.

Now that we’re moving to an increasingly maskless and virus-less region, what’s the deal with those patio structures many businesses erected on top of parking spots?

On the podcast this week, VOSD hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby discuss the mixed messaging that’s coming from the city on the structures’ future. Some city staffers say the structures are temporary and many will need to come down. Others say there’s a path to keep them around as a new fixture of San Diego dining.

But also: Fire marshal’s gotta fire marshal. Many of the structures that went up — especially in Little Italy — got increasingly extravagant and aren’t up to state code. So for some structures, it’s not a matter of the city trying to reverse-engineer a solution. It’s just straight up not allowed.

There are of course a lot of competing ideas about whether these outdoor dining spaces are the right fit for San Diego. We collected some of those here as the story got a lot of attention on social media.

Speaking of Streets, There’s Ash

Attorneys representing the city of San Diego have subpoenaed records from the key players of the 101 Ash St. building debacle, a real estate mess that’s cost San Diego millions.

Lewis, Keatts and Libby on the podcast unleash a brief history of the story and what these orders could tell us.

Also on the pod radar this week: San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten is now officially the deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, San Pasqual Academy is holding on as a home for foster youth and Sycuan employees are pushing to unionize.

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Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

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