Solana Beach extends COVID-19 temporary use permits for businesses

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff file photo)

The Solana Beach City Council unanimously approved the extension of a COVID-19 temporary use permit policy that has allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining.

The policy will now be in place until Jan. 1, 2022, or until statewide emergency public health orders are lifted. It was set to expire at the end of April.

“The literal lifelines that kept many of us afloat outside of (Paycheck Protection Program) loans was pick-up orders and outdoor seating expanding the premises,” said Tom van Betten, co-owner of the Saddle Bar.

He was one of the public speakers during the April 28 council meeting in support of the extension. He mentioned the possibility of embracing more space for outdoor dining long-term in San Diego, similar to sidewalk cafes that are common in Europe.

Thirty-three temporary use permits have been approved by the city, including 24 for businesses without outdoor dining, according to a city staff report. Nineteen of those 24 businesses are using public parking spaces, and the other five are using sidewalks.

“If the pandemic could be said to have had a silver lining for our city,” City Councilwoman Jewel Edson said, “it’s been expansion of outdoor dining.”

Council members approved the initial temporary use permit policy last June for restaurants to expand outdoor operations, and later expanded the policy to include businesses such as barber shops and nail salons. They also discussed the possibility of allowing more outdoor dining beyond the temporary permits.

City Councilwoman Kelly Harless said she thinks outdoor dining has “been a benefit to our businesses and people have enjoyed it.” Deputy Mayor Kristi Becker added, “I’m hoping we can extend it as long as we can.”

“We’re a long way from recovering from what’s happened over the last year, particularly our restaurant businesses,” City Councilman David Zito said. “We need to continue to do what we can to support them.”