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SD Restaurants Can Keep Outdoor Seating Popular under COVID Restrictions

By Sandra G. Leon

The City of San Diego will soon allow permanent restaurant outdoor seating that has become popular during the COVID pandemic.

The San Diego City Council approved the “Spaces as Places” plan that will allow permanent outdoor seating for restaurants on streets with speed limits of 30 miles per hour or lower. Eateries in coastal areas will need additional approval from the State Coastal Commission.

The program expands the use of outdoor seating that first started last year in response to COVID restrictions for indoor seating. The City first approved an emergency use authorization in August 2020. In May of this year, the Council extended the emergency approves through July 2022.

Restaurants used temporary expansions to increase their seating to parking spaces in front of their locales during the pandemic and the trend became popular with customers.

The Council voted 6-2 for the program, with Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera and Joe LaCava opposed because they both supported limiting the program to streets with a 25 MPH speed limit for lower. Councilman Chris Cate was absent.

The policy must still go before the Council again in November for a second reading fore going into effect.

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