Peter DeCoste, owner of Pete's Seafood and Sandwich: "I was told that no structures will be allowed back into the street."
In July, as the pandemic raged, the city waived fees and made it a lot easier for restaurants to obtain a permit for outdoor dining. Many in North Park quickly set up tables on sidewalks or shouldered the cost to build a parklet – a sealed off portion of curbside parking spaces reserved for restaurants.
It was a good survival strategy, but for some it will end too soon. Once the repaving of 30th St. is completed in January, bike lanes are coming, and what the city says is a handful of restaurants between Polk Ave. and Juniper St. will have to tear down their new outdoor dining set ups.
According to the city, they'll be able to restore them but restaurant owners have heard otherwise.
"I was told that once the repaving is done no structures will be allowed back into the street," says Peter DeCoste, owner of Pete's Seafood and Sandwich near the corner of 30th and Upas.
North Park Main Street has tried unsuccessfully to get the city to put in writing that street dining would be allowed back after the repaving, he says.
While Pete's only has two sidewalk tables due to the busy intersection, DeCoste worries about the loss of parking now that more people who live nearby are working from home.
"I believe the impact of this on small business will be devastating," he says.
City spokesman Alec Phillipp says there are no firm dates yet for the paving and removal of outdoor dining, which will be followed by the re-striping of bike and road lanes, but it will take place in January. The city will contact those whose dining set-ups will be in conflict with the new bike lanes, he says.
"To minimize the impacts to these businesses, we are developing a plan to expedite them through the process of obtaining a new outdoor dining permit."
Bikes, it seems, will flow around an obstacle course of parklets. The city will design traffic control set-ups for each business "to ensure cyclists in the bike lane are safely directed around the new outdoor dining patios."
The traffic control plans will be developed on a case-by-case basis, once each business has obtained new permits to replace their outdoor dining setups, he says.
"The focus is on mitigating the impact to these businesses and helping them get re-established as quickly and safely as possible."
For restaurant owners like DeCoste, the uncertainty isn't helped by San Diego hitting the worst tier of state restrictions last week, sending restaurants back to outdoor dining less than three months after being allowed to resume limited indoor dining.
"All we are asking as business owners is to delay the removal until we are allowed at least 50 percent dine-in capacity."