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Economic Development

Outdoor Business Grant

Examples of outdoor business operations

Overview

Spaces as Places is the City of San Diego's program to allow outdoor dining and other community gathering spaces in the public right-of-way. As part of a pilot project started in 2023, the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department (EDD) will be providing grants up to $20,000 to eligible businesses following the Spaces as Places program guidelines for expanding business operations outdoors into the public right-of-way. EDD will be prioritizing businesses located in underserved communities for these grants. Grants may be awarded in phases, and can cover the costs of design, permitting and construction of projects.

Goal

The Outdoor Business Grant program supports businesses working to create outdoor dining spaces that contribute to the enjoyment of the public environment. It also seeks to prioritize projects in underserved communities.

Timeline and Funding Available

This grant is partially funded through SB 1186 fees, which are intended to be deployed to “increase disability access, encourage compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements, develop education resources for businesses, and facilitate compliance with Federal and State disability laws.” Additional grant funds are being provided through the Small Business Enhancement Program. The total amount currently available for Fiscal Year 2024 (ending June 30, 2024) is approximately $300,000. This grant program is periodically reviewed and updated based on available funding and participation levels.

Eligible Use of Funds

This grant is for reimbursement of some or all expenses related to creating and installing a Sidewalk Cafe, Streetary, or Active Sidewalks project defined by the Spaces as Places program. 

Eligible expenses include City of San Diego permit fees, cost of drawings required for the permit application, cost of labor, and cost of materials. All contractors and vendors must have proper California licensing and City Business Tax Certificates as required by law. 

Funds must be spent exclusively at the application location. Funds cannot be used to purchase any insurances required by the Spaces as Places process.

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible, the applicant must be a commercial occupant of the subject property. The business must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be located in the City of San Diego; 
  • Have a valid City of San Diego Business Tax Certificate; 
  • Be independently owned and operated; and
  • Business ownership must have a majority/primary business owner who is a San Diego County resident.

Applications are ineligible if any of the following characteristics are true about the business:

  • Any owners with 20% or more ownership stake have previously applied for this grant;
  • An establishment within the same restaurant group has already applied for this grant;
  • It is a chain or other restaurant group with seven or more locations; and/or
  • It is engaged in any illegal activity per local, state or federal regulations.

Process

All applicants for the Outdoor Business Grant should expect to take the following steps to complete their projects:

  1. Review the Spaces as Places Design Manual and the Spaces as Places Streetary Checklist.
  2. Complete an initial grant application and work with staff as they review the feasibility and potential costs of the project.
  3. Create and assemble all permit drawings.
  4. Submit the first OBG reimbursement request, including required documentation of expenses, IRS form W9, City Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Vendor Enrollment Payment Form and a voided check.
  5. Submit applications for Right-of-Way, Neighborhood Use, and other building permits.
  6. The property owner must enter into a Streetary Encroachment Maintenance and Removal Agreement (EMRA) with the City of San Diego, including providing evidence of required insurances.
  7. Pay permit fees as they become due.
  8. Complete the construction and installation of all project elements.
  9. Submit additional OBG reimbursement request(s), including required documentation of expenses.
  10. Maintain the project elements per the Streetary EMRA on file.

Reimbursement Amounts

Applicant businesses are eligible for reimbursement not to exceed $20,000, issued in phases as they are successfully completed, per the chart below. Businesses located within the San Diego Promise Zone boundaries, in low- and moderate-income areas, or owned by low- and moderate-income individuals are eligible for a larger grant amount (Category B) to help with the initial costs of permitting a Spaces As Places project.

 

Phase Description

Category A 

Maximum Reimbursement

Category B 

Maximum Reimbursement

Permitting – includes permit application and inspection fees$2,500$5,000
Design – expenses paid to a design professional for research and drawings required to obtain required permits$2,500$5,000
Construction – costs include labor and materials provided by properly licensed contractors and vendors.$10,000$10,000

Application

This application is available through SeamlessDocs. To optimize SeamlessDocs functionality, applicants should use Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari browsers.

Applicants must agree to the program Terms & Conditions as part of the application form. Applicants will be asked to provide basic information about the property, business owner(s), proposed project elements, and project budget. Applications will require the upload of:

  • Proof of business owner’s residence - acceptable forms of this include a current driver’s license with a residential address listed; or a current government-issued picture identification PLUS a recent utility bill with the owner’s name and residential address listed. 
  • A photo of the area where the project will be built, showing the front of the business if possible. 
  • Completed OBG Landlord Approval Form

The program administrator will contact applicants within seven (7) business days of application submission. City staff primarily communicate using email so be sure to check your Spam inbox for any emails ending in “@sandiego.gov” if you do not receive communication within that time.

 Outdoor Business Grant Application