Outdoor dining in Little Italy
Outdoor dining in Little Italy / Photo by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

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This post originally appeared in the July 15 Morning Report. Subscribe here.

The city of San Diego told business owners who wanted to keep the outdoor dining spaces they built during the COVID-19 pandemic they’d need to apply for a permit by Wednesday, but that deadline came and went and few businesses did so.

Most dining structures, though, are still up.

Anthony Santacroce, a spokesman for the city of San Diego, said the city sent letters to any business with a temporary permit that the deadline for a permanent permit was coming.

“We didn’t unleash an army of code enforcement officers yesterday to start nailing civil penalties to the wood,” Santacroce said. “Eventually they’re going to have to come down. And they should be taking them down today.” 

Businesses with structures that don’t have a permanent permit under the city’s new “Spaces as Places” program could eventually get slapped with a $1,000 citation. 

Angela Landsberg, the former executive director of the North Park Main Street Association, said she’s still getting calls from confused business owners. 

“The (permanent) permit is huge and cumbersome and requires professional guidance. Even the average, educated, permit-savvy person would have an almost impossible time going through the permit,” Landsberg said. 

Virginia Morrison who owns Second Chance Beer Company on 30th Street in North Park concurs. 

“I’m a lawyer. When I looked at the Spaces as Places program, I was like, ‘who the heck is going to be able to figure this out?’” Morrison said.

Her business is in a unique situation since the city painted bike lanes around her temporary dining structure. Morrison said she’s applied for the permit anyway but was then told her business has to remove the structure so the city can repaint the bike lane.

“I have no intention of removing my (outdoor dining structure),” Morrison said. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Some outdoor seating areas add character to a street or neighborhood while others look unsightly.

    What I find interesting is many business owners complained about bike lanes taking up needed parking but were more than happy to eliminate parking in order to expand seating for their business.

  2. “I have no intention of removing my (outdoor dining structure),” Morrison said.

    With any luck, the City will do it for you.

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