San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter would benefit from proposed easing of outdoor dining permit rules. Photo by Chris Stone

A proposal was announced Thursday aimed at creating more outdoor dining and retail space for San Diego businesses, which San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says will help make up for revenues lost due to indoor restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The proposal would have the city waive fees and fast-track permitting needed to expand businesses outdoors into parking lots, sidewalks and on-street parking spaces.

The Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit would also waive fees related to special events that involve street closures.

Businesses can see if they’re eligible and begin submitting their proposals Thursday at this page, but the plan still has to be approved by the San Diego City Council, which is slated to hear it early next month.

“The restaurant industry needs our help more than ever,” Faulconer said. “This plan makes it easier and less expensive for restaurants to transform parking lots and outdoor spaces into dining areas that can accommodate more customers safely. This is one more way we are delivering relief to small businesses as they reopen their doors and people get back to work.”

Many businesses have had to scale back their indoor space and customer capacity to abide by social-distancing requirements. Faulconer says his proposal will help businesses avoid the usual outdoor permitting process, which can result in fees exceeding $1,000 and months of waiting for permits to process.

Local businesses will be allowed to use the Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit as long as the county’s public health order mandates social distancing. Permits for complete street closures will expire when distancing requirements are lifted or at the end of the year, whichever comes first.

The announcement came as several businesses in the Gaslamp Quarter are slated to open up their spaces into Fifth Avenue between G and L streets starting Thursday afternoon, in a similar effort to mitigate crowds and increase space for restaurants. As part of “Curbside Gaslamp,” the stretch of road will be closed to vehicular traffic from 3 p.m. to midnight Thursdays and Fridays, and noon to midnight Saturdays.

The program is slated to expand further north on Fifth to Broadway later this summer.

“This is an amazing opportunity for local, Fifth Avenue businesses to gain more visibility and get new customers into their doors during this unprecedented time,” said Michael Trimble, Executive Director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association.

— City News Service

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