End to streetside dining near San Diego beaches worries business owners, residents and visitors
Streetside dining near beaches in San Diego may soon be a thing of the past, and it has some business owners, residents and visitors concerned.
“If they take it all away from us that’ll be a real drag,” said Joe Bartling, general manager and part owner of 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach. “People like to sit outside, especially this close to the beach. So we’re just keeping our fingers crossed — trying to stay positive.”
Like many restaurants during the pandemic, 710 Beach Club built out a patio that replaced a stretch of on-street parking spaces. Those outdoor dining areas gave cooped-up residents an opportunity to enjoy their favorite bars and restaurants, and threw a lifeline to local businesses.
But in December, the California Coastal Commission recommended prohibiting roadside patios that take up precious parking spaces near the water. Eliminating those parking spaces, the commission argued, could impact people’s access to the coast. Last month, the City Council largely agreed with the recommendation. It is expected to take effect in July.
The decision affects businesses in the so-called “beach impact area,” which stretches from Torrey Pines to Sunset cliffs and measures at least a quarter-mile inland from the coast. Establishments can keep their streetside dining areas if they replace the eliminated on-street parking spaces with nearby off-street parking at no cost.
Businesses outside the beach impact area will not be affected.
Derek Wormdahl sat on the patio outside 710 Beach Club on Monday, enjoying a beer with some friends. He traveled to San Diego from Eugene, Oregon, and lamented the decision to get rid of so-called “streetaries.”
“I think it lends a great ambiance to the area,” he said. “Even with this gone, the street parking probably is still a problem with the amount of people who come down to the area.”
Next door, Michael Jenner sat outside Pacific Bean Coffee, enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of cheesecake. He was born in 1945 and has lived in San Diego his whole life. He said the addition of streetside dining was a positive development in the city.
“I think they’re good for the area, they’re good for the people,” he said.
Erol Kozoglu, owner of Pacific Bean Coffee, agreed.
“My shop is small — I have only two tables [inside],” he said. “Outside can sit almost 10 customers, 12 customers.”
Kozoglu said he’s unsure what will happen with the two tables that are taking up a parking space in front of his café. Trying to identify an area for even one replacement off-street parking space in Pacific Beach would be a challenge, given the area’s congestion.