Compliance checks begin Monday for city’s outdoor dining structures –

SAN DIEGO — Starting Monday, San Diego city officials begin cracking down on outdoor dining structures.

Compliance checks and enforcement actions begin Aug. 2 for businesses currently operating in the public right of way without a city issued temporary outdoor business operation permit. The permits provide businesses the chance to offer services outdoors, a relic of the COVID-19 pandemic allowing restaurants and others to operate when indoor capacity was limited.

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“They want to take the roof off and I think honestly it’s a bad idea because we already have the patio,” said Andrea Carbonaro, general manager of Farmer’s Table in Little Italy. “We made it and invested a lot on the patio.”

For businesses with a proper permit that have noncompliant structures and other violations, enforcement will not start until after Labor Day.

During inspections, City staff will be checking for violations. They include:

  • Unpermitted structures and decks in the right of way (including the street) that were not designed, reviewed and inspected for state and local requirements;
  • Platforms built in the street with added walls and roofs;
  • Railings that are taller than 45 inches;
  • Liquid propane gas heaters within tents and structures;
  • Fire extinguishers not installed in tents and structures;
  • Electrical extension cords crossing the sidewalks;
  • Unpermitted tents that are 400 square feet and larger;
  • Tents or canopies that have been in use for more than six months in a year;
  • Materials used for tents that do not meet the State Fire Marshal’s standards; and 
  • Improper drainage and blocking the natural flow of water to City storm drains.

In Little Italy, some of the most elaborate outdoor areas are found at places like Farmer’s Table. The restaurant’s management continues to count on the availability of its outdoor space, particularly during the ever-changing pandemic.

“The situation right now with the mutation of the virus, we don’t know if the government is going to decide to shut down again inside,” Stefano Billdteri said.

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One restaurant in Little Italy could be seen already started taking down parts of its structure, but most in the area seem to be waiting it out and say they have signed a petition to keep the roofs on their structures.

Outdoor dining has been extended through next July in the city.

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