Open-air dining idea on the table in North Park – CBS News 8

Posted: May 20, 2020 at 4:45 am

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The pilot plan would close 30th Street from Polk and University Avenues and allow dining in the street to help restaurants safely reach full capacity.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. Restaurants preparing to open for dine-in during the Phase II extension know it will be nice to get back to business, but know the restrictions will impose a challenge.

The California Restaurant Association estimates 30% of restaurants will close for good in the next 16 to 18 months.

Now there is a plan on the table in North Park that could help save businesses called an Open-Air pilot plan for businesses. The proposal calls for the closure of 30th Street, between Polk and University Avenues, and allow dining in the street.

This is lifeline we are throwing our businesses to allow them to use the public right-of-way to increase capacity, said Angela Landsberg, North Park Main Street Association Executive Director.

North Park is filled with many small and cozy restaurants and with the six-foot physical distancing rule for business that could cut their capacity to 25%.

The Open-Air plan proposed by The North Park Main Street Association, is a conceptual plan that would need approval by the city. The proposal would be over two weeks from Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m., to 10 p.m. Other neighborhood restaurants are considering similar options such as converting parking lots into dining areas.

I think it would be nice to be spilling out in the streets, said a North Park resident.

Mixed reactions from non-restaurants.

"Im a new a business. I dont have the ability to survive again with street closures, said a business owner during The North Park Planning Committee monthly meeting on Zoom.

Other businesses say they are welcoming the idea.

Ive got my own parking lot, so it doesnt really affect me that much. If it's good for the neighborhood than it's good for all of us in the neighborhood, said Hangers Cleaners and Laundry owner Gordon Shaw.

There are concerns about bus routes and parking but there is also an outpouring of support.

We would love to see everything open back up. We would love to see it open and have a chance to go and eat at all of our favorite places again, said a North Park couple.

Landsberg presented a power point to the committee that outlined reservations would be needed, no gatherings, no more than five people at a table, six-feet physical distance, masks, and other County health guidelines. This would only be short-term.

We are not looking to rush this. We want to do it the right way we want it to work for everybody, said Landsberg.

Restaurants like Crazee Burger is only 1,700 square feet on the corner of 30th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Being able to have an expansive outdoor space is going to be both helpful for us and finding room and being able to keep our head count up and as well as help customer last feel safe, said Crazee Burger owner, Garrett Bernard. Be open minded and just courteous and thoughtful and try to consider other people's sentiments. I think something like this is a perfect compromise.

The North Park Planning Committee unanimously approved the proposal, but the city still needs to approve it.

A spokesperson for the City of San Diego e-mailed News 8 this statement:

"North Park Main Street is getting feedback from the community to evaluate the feasibility of providing an outside dining option for City restaurants.

The City is investigatingan emergency ordinance that anticipates future revisions of County health guidelines to provide local businesses specifically restaurants limited access to public space and private, adjacent property for open-air operations.

The alternative would help facilitate the opening and safe operations of the local restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic while abiding with all other social distancing, food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene requirements," Scott Robinson,Senior Public Information Officer, City of San Diego."

*UPDATE* North Park Planning Committee approved the Open Air pilot program. City is working on an emergency ordinance that would all public rightaway access for restaurants. Open Air proposal in North Park that would close 30th between University and Polk during peak days/hours and allow dining in the street to help businesses expand capacity during social distance rules

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Open-air dining idea on the table in North Park - CBS News 8

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May 20th, 2020 at 4:45 am

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