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KPBS Midday Edition

Restaurant owners pleased with permanent sidewalk dining ordinance

An outdoor dining parklet at Matteo in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego, Calif. Aug. 3, 2021.
KPBS Staff
An outdoor dining parklet at Matteo in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego, Calif. Aug. 3, 2021.

According to a San Diego City Council member, it’s one of the “silver linings” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outdoor restaurant dining extended onto sidewalks and parking areas was given tentative permanent approval by the City Council last week.

"I think al fresco is the way of the future, not just in San Diego but across the nation," said Steve Galasso, the owner of Caffe Italia on India Street in Little Italy. "I think it's certainly going in the right direction."

Little Italy has some of the highest number of outdoor dining structures in the city.

The emergency measure, meant to help restaurants serve patrons outdoors during the height of the pandemic, has proven so popular it’s now a city initiative dubbed Spaces to Places.

New regulations for the structures and new fees were part of the city council’s approval.

Marco Li Mandri, the chief executive administrator of the Little Italy Association, is pleased with the outdoor dining initiative.

"This is part of an overall change in the city of San Diego where we should be doing this everywhere," Li Mandri said. "We should be vacating streets everywhere, we should be providing outdoor dining, so this is a really good step in the right direction."

Li Mandri joined Midday Edition on Wednesday to talk about the newly approved measure.