Solana Beach City Council members voted Nov. 9 on a one year extension to allow outdoor dining to continue while they work on a way to keep it permanently.
“Our residents really want dining, they want entertainment,” Marie Brawn, who owns Homestead Solana Beach with her husband Jamie, said during public comment. “They want to eat and drink and spend their hard-earned money not only where they own a home, but where they want to walk down the street and enjoy what we have.”
Brawn added that the restaurateurs in the city “are united in believing in Solana Beach, that we can be a destination for not only travelers, but for residents.”
The city began issuing Temporary Use Permits to allow outdoor dining at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic almost three years ago, when public health regulations prohibited indoor dining and other business operations. The permits were also available to gyms, fitness centers and personal care services.
Of the 33 permits the city has issued, 24 were for outdoor dining, according to a city staff report. Thirteen businesses are still using the permits for outdoor dining, including Pizza Port, Saddle Bar, Pillbox Tavern, ALCE, Naked Cafe and Homestead Solana Beach.
In some cases, parking spaces were used to accommodate outdoor dining spaces.
“I don’t think we will have a thriving business community if we take this outdoor seating away,” Solana Beach resident Shawna McGarry said. “We need to become a more environmentally sustainable city. People can and will get to restaurants without cars.”
City Councilmembers David Zito and Jewel Edson will work on crafting a permanent outdoor dining policy while the Temporary Use Permits will remain in effect until the end of 2023.
Permanent regulations would likely address standards for keeping public rights-of-way clean, restricting noise caused by music or other forms of entertainment, and restricting the use of public parking spaces for outdoor dining, according to recommendations in the city staff report.
“We do recognize the vibrancy that this has brought to our community, the many benefits it has brought to the restaurants, to our residents, to the visitors,” Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said. “It’s attractive, it energizes the area.”