Rules for outdoor dining spaces are about to get stricter in the city of San Diego – NBC 7 San Diego

Swami’s Cafe has been a staple in the North Park neighborhood for over a decade.

“We saw babies growing in front of our faces,” said Jorge Sandoval, an employee of Swami.

But like most businesses, the family restaurant has struggled to stay open during the pandemic.

“It really touched us,” Sandoval said.

One of the main things that helped them survive was eating outdoors, restaurateurs said.

“It made a huge difference because a lot of people weren’t comfortable eating indoors, so a lot of them wanted to be outdoors,” Sandoval said.

So have dozens of restaurants that have taken advantage of the opportunity to convert parking lots and streets into outdoor dining areas.

“It definitely helps our business,” Sandoval said.

But that help is quickly coming to an end. As of July 13, merchants who wish to keep their outdoor facilities will have to apply for a permit from the City.

Approved companies will be responsible for annual fees ranging from $10 to $30 per square foot.

On top of that, they will be charged a development impact fee, plan verification, and inspection fee.

There is also a set of requirements that each structure must meet making many of those seen around town ineligible under the new scheme.

Yet Swami’s owners think the trouble is worth it.

“It’s worth it if you have the contractor come in and do a really good job, as long as it’s up to code,” Sandoval said. “Most definitely, go ahead and do it.”

Swami’s has already submitted its application and declares that it has made the necessary changes to its parklet.

“It’s going to help us to have that extra space outside when we’re really busy inside,” Sandoval said.

They hope the investment will pay off when the summer rush returns to North Park.

Businesses that do not apply to the city’s “Spaces as Places” program or remove their outdoor structures by July 13 will face penalties. For more information on permits, visit the City of San Diego Development Services.

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