On Friday, a new beachfront al fresco spot emerged in Pacific Beach on Ocean Boulevard, in place of a normally packed public parking lot.
“You can’t ask for a better place to come hang out and drink and eat,” a tourist told NBC 7.
Under San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's outdoor dining ordinance, the PB Shore Club and Waterbar are setting up outside to serve as many people as possible, safely.
“We can only grow towards the ocean and this was our best option," said Billy Ramirez, PB Shore Club owner.
The county health order prohibits indoor dining, so until December 30 Ocean Boulevard between Grand and Thomas Avenues is closed to parking for the bars to seat guests. The road remains clear for car traffic in one direction.
“It’s not just beneficial for us, for business and exposure to be right here on the ocean, but our staff can pick up some more hours, more money in their pockets,” Ramirez said.
While it may serve as a lifeline for Ramirez and his employees, losing 20 public spots or so, could be worsening an already limited parking situation.
Pacific Beach resident Lee Olson told NBC 7 he has been coming to this area every day at sunrise and sunset, for decades. That parking lot was his go-to.
He worries that beachgoers and disabled people will suffer that convenient access for parking.
“The only thing people are left with is to drive around and wait for somebody to leave,” Olson said.
Sara Berns, the executive director of the business district Discover PB, told NBC 7 that two ADA spots were relocated elsewhere. She also added the approval process for this outdoor spot was approved by the Coastal Commission, a Discover PB events committee, the Pacific Beach Town council, and other citizen groups.
Olson believes the city should replace the parking spots lost in other parts of the area.
“Especially now with people staying at home or have lost their jobs, on-street parking is even tighter than before,” Olson said.
He reached out to the city to voice his issues.
In a statement to NBC 7, Rebecca Rybczyk with Mayor Faulconer’s office said:
“This outdoor activity was approved by the Coastal Commission. For a lot of businesses under this relief measure, if they can stay open right now it means they don’t have to close forever.”
Rybczyk said the city is not looking to replace the lost parking spots.
For now, Ramirez said he is focusing on filling his tables while he can. He told NBC 7 the outdoor setup allows for 18 more tables which could equate to between 30 and 40 guests.
“Losing 20 spots I could see some people being upset about that but overall we’ve had a huge response. People were coming by this morning really stoked that we are doing this,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez hopes the city will consider a permanent outdoor option, given everything goes well.