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San Diego beach-area businesses will pay more to keep 'streetaries'

People walk by a dining area in Mission Beach that extends to the street parking.
Matthew Bowler
People walk by a dining area in Mission Beach that extends to the street parking.

Dustin Smith of El Cajon has been coming to Mission Beach for 35 years with his father and now with his children. “We come about three to four times a year,” he said, “to enjoy the beach."

One thing they don’t enjoy is parking near the beach.

"(Parking is) really crazy, especially when you start to get in the summer months," Smith said. "All the kids are getting out of school, everybody’s graduating, and it just gets ridiculous out here."


Beach-area parking was reduced during the pandemic when restaurants expanded their dining areas into street parking spots, which became known as "streetaries." The “Spaces As Places” policy allowed those businesses to adhere to public health emergency restrictions. The city of San Diego also said it encouraged people to spend more time outdoors and created healthy neighborhoods.

But the California Coastal Commission said the streetaries violated access, traffic and fire safety regulations and informed the city it would need to modify its policy. On Monday, the city council voted to modify the “beach impact area,” extending about a quarter-mile inland from the coast, from Torrey Pines to Sunset Cliffs.

Under the modified policy, businesses in that area can still have outdoor dining in parking spots, but they will need to obtain permits — and they will have to replace lost parking with spaces within 1,200 feet, at their cost.

“We need parking spots,” said Mike Soltan, the owner of Kojack’s, a restaurant that’s just steps from the sand in Mission Beach. While he did not open a streetary, he said, “I'm glad they did it because that kind of helped the situation.”

Soltan has been in the area for 40 years, noting, “I got grey hair now!” and said, "Never in my life (have) we experienced something like COVID. It was such a tough two years."


While business owners who spoke to the council Monday said Spaces As Places has improved business and community involvement, beach-area residents said the streetaries were meant to be temporary – and they said they’re tired of street closures.

The modified policy is expected to take effect in July, just in time for families like the Smiths to enjoy the beach with hopefully fewer parking headaches.

"It's time to move on," said Smith.