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City of San Diego Begins Accepting ‘Spaces as Places’ Permit Applications

Starting  Jan. 6, 2022, local eating and drinking establishments can submit applications to receive a two-year permit to expand their operations outdoors into the public right of way under the first-of-its-kind Spaces as Places program.

“Spaces as Places is an innovative program that creatively transforms our public right-of-way while expanding economic opportunities,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “In addition to creating promenades, widening sidewalks and building new parklets, it also provides financial assistance to businesses in historically underserved communities to ensure that the economic and civic benefits of outdoor dining will be enjoyed across all our communities. I’m looking forward to this program creating more dynamic public places throughout San Diego.”

Unanimously approved by the City Council in October 2021, Spaces as Places provides creative ways for people to enjoy outdoor activities such as dining, walking and biking. Spaces as Places permits will allow eating and drinking establishments to pay for the exclusive use of outdoor spaces in the public right of way, including sidewalks and parking spaces.

The new program supports the City's climate goals by helping create wider sidewalks with promenades and curb extensions, providing safe spaces walking or rolling, people on bicycles.

All eating and drinking establishments seeking to conduct business within the public space will need to apply for a new permit. In addition, any business or organization with an existing Temporary Outdoor Business Operations permit that would like to continue using that space will have until July 13 this year to comply with the new Spaces as Places regulations, in order to continue using the space.

“Our goal is to provide businesses with all the tools they need to operate in a compliant manner and to help them provide a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for their customers in beautiful San Diego,” said Development Services Department Assistant Director Gary Geiler. “Applicants wishing to apply for a Spaces as Places permit can visit our website where they will find zoning designations, permit requirements and a helpful design manual.”

Outdoor eating and drinking establishments with business tax certificates and all applicable insurances, permits and licenses may apply for a renewable two-year Spaces as Places permit in the following categories:

  • Streetaries: Outdoor spaces created in street space formerly dedicated to parking spaces that serves as an extension of establishment that sells food and drinks.
  • Active Sidewalks: The permanent extension of the curb into the parking lane to facilitate a variety of uses and activities, to create inviting places for people of all abilities.
  • Sidewalk Cafes: Outdoor dining space within the sidewalk area of the public right of way associated with adjacent eating and drinking establishments.
  • Promenades: The partial or complete street closure to vehicular traffic facilitating active transportation uses such as walking, rolling, biking, recreation, outdoor dining and enjoyable public interaction.
  • Outdoor Dining within Private Property: This option would replace existing off-street parking while also providing necessary locational and design requirements.

Spaces as Places permit fees are calculated depending on the location, complexity and size of the project. In addition, based on the business location and the Climate Equity Index, applicants will also be assessed an Exclusive Use fee between $10 and $30 per square foot to cover the administration and enforcement costs of the program.

After covering these costs, at least 50% of the funding collected through fees will be dedicated to public right of way, bicycle and pedestrian improvements in traditionally underserved communities citywide.

For more information about established regulations and to view the design manual, applicants may visit sandiego.gov/spaces-as-places.