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Solana Beach extends use of temporary outdoor patios until next January

Outdoor patios helped many businesses survive the pandemic, but now cities are having to decide what to do with them. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us the latest from Solana Beach.

Makeshift outdoor patios that went up during the pandemic, when indoor dining was off-limits, have become a common sight. But the time has come for city governments to decide if the patios can be kept or need to go.

In the city of San Diego, temporary outdoor permits expired and businesses will now need to apply and pay fees in order to obtain a permanent patio permit.

It’s a decision the city of Solana Beach is not ready to make.

Solana Beach Mayor Lisa Heebner said city staff need more time to review the outdoor patios' impact on the surrounding areas.

“There's always that tension between how we're how we're going to make this all work, and when we've given this ability to people, there's nothing worse than having to take something back," she said. "But we also have to look at the overall impacts.”

During Wednesday’s city council meeting, council members voted to extend temporary outdoor patio permits in Solana Beach until January.

“We have to evaluate the impact on the public right of way because sidewalks, which is public right of way, are now being used for tables and chairs, (and the impact) on private parking lots which are now being used for tables and chairs, and are they having any impact on neighboring businesses and on residential neighborhoods," Heebner said.

Mike Garcia, a managing partner at Saddle Bar, said he's glad the city is extending the use of the patios for a couple more months.

“Absolutely, it's been a game changer for all the local restaurants and bars and everything," he said. "We're all hoping that they extend it and we can someday make it permanent."

Garcia said the extension provides more time for businesses to catch up before having to think about permits and fees.

“It's nice that they were able to do it without charging us additional fees and stuff like that. I know it does take up a little bit of parking but it's a non-issue," he said. "I think the pros outweigh the cons.”

City staff said they will study the impact during their upcoming busy season to determine the next steps on outdoor patios.

Feedback will be presented at the end of the year.