Richard Aguirre in November 2016
Since opening the Surf Check coffee shop last year, Richard Aguirre says he has been embroiled in a permitting process that is unfairly targeting his business.
The Surf Check, a blue-and-white camper trailer located on the corner of an auto-shop lot at 1404 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard (at Point Loma Avenue), has gained some popularity.
Surf Check has gone back to basics while it goes through the permitting process.
“I opened in November. By May they shut me down,” Aguirre says. “We used to have a little deck here with chairs, and people would come, sit here, and enjoy…. And then I added another deck that was completely permittable. It was great. Customers were coming all the time, and then, all of a sudden, the city came and I said I couldn’t do this. I said, ‘Okay, why can’t I do this?’“
Aguirre was given a list of reasons from the city code-enforcement officer upon inspection, including improper setbacks, having tables and a deck, and not enough parking for the size of his building. (He says he’s in compliance on most counts.) Half a block away, meanwhile, Aguirre says there is a café with tables and umbrellas blocking part of the sidewalk.
“Unless someone calls in a complaint, nothing will happen, and I’m not that kind of guy. Even with the city official — she was standing here and I said, ‘How are they allowed to do that and I’m not?' She said, ‘You wanna open a case against them?’...
“Our whole goal is this,” says Aguirre, “we want a local spot — you know how hard it is as a local to spend $12 on a bagel sandwich? Prices are jacked up to tourists’ prices, rents have gone up — so where can you go eat, locally, that’s affordable? Our goal is to make badass meals for $5 so locals can’t afford to stay home and eat. We’ll have a line for tourists and another line for locals. You can feed the public for nothing and get a real good locally priced meal…right now, there is nothing like this around here and we’d make it killer.”
1404 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, San Diego
The Surf Check is open during the ongoing permitting process. Aguirre hopes to add the deck, patio, and, eventually, a grill and kitchen.