Encinitas to charge restaurants for outdoor dining parklets

Ever since the pandemic, outdoor dining spaces have become a common sight

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The Encinitas City Council adopted a resolution Wednesday to begin charging a fee for outdoor patios built over some parking spaces.

The cost, however, won't likely slow down the push for permanent structures.

It was another busy Friday at sunset for the Bier Garden in downtown Encinitas. Shanna Niche, the manager, knows the bar's parklet will be one of the best seats in town.

"This patio stays more full than the whole inside of our restaurant," Niche said.

The Bier Garden has one of the largest parklets at approximately 500 square feet.

Beginning in August, it will cost bar owners $2.50 per square foot each month. It’s a small price for what it brings in. Niche says it’s responsible for a third of restaurant revenue.

“We’re not going to take it away, and putting that up is the biggest thing we could have done for this restaurant,” Niche said.

Just two doors down at the Vuori clothing store, there is no parklet.

“I think that is pretty understandable. You got to charge something after a while," store manager Soren Gregory said.

Gregory says his business benefits from bars and restaurants that do have them.

“We’re right next to a brewery. People love coming outside, especially in the summer," Gregory said. "And at the end of the day, they want to have a drink, relax, then come in and shop."

Lockdowns during the pandemic forced bars and restaurants outside to survive.

If you’re thinking it's about time these parklet creators start paying for the public space they use to make money, you’re not alone. But it may not address the problems some shop owners say these parklets cause.

Just a block north, Encinitas Barbers, along with the other small shops in this center, have complained to the city council for years about the parklet impact on parking.

Despite the signs in front of the few spaces they have, visitors park their cars in those spots and go elsewhere.

“I’m down 30 to 40% on the weekdays. On the weekends, I’m down 50 or 60%,” barbershop owner Raoul Villamar said.

According to published reports, Encinitas has 27 outdoor patio spaces taking up 95 public parking spaces.

While the new resolution may pay off for the city, some of its businesses, still short public parking, aren’t feeling the benefit.

Encinitas is studying creative solutions to replace the lost parking, but don't expect to see any change until next year, NBC 7's Allison Ash reports.
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