As small businesses across San Diego work to recover from the pandemic, one coffee shop in North Park is blaming city construction projects for putting them on the brink of closing.
The owners of Deja Brew Lounge on University Avenue, Mariana Covarrubias and Vannak Seang, told NBC 7 that construction over the last six months has gutted their sales.
Covarrubias and Seang said the pandemic and a months-long construction project have taken more than half of their business. The city's goal was to make the street safer, more walkable and easier for cars and pedestrians to co-exist. Improvements included pedestrian crossings and raised medians, for example.
Covarrubias said they support the city creating safer neighborhoods, but up until recently, the project was actually hurting them. Crews blocked both entrances to their shop for the last six months, Covarrubias said. She filed a claim with the city asking for $10,000 but was denied.
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It might sound like a large sum, but that's just one month of bills, rent and payroll at the coffee shop, according to Covarrubias.
“North Park, Hillcrest, South Park. I feel like small businesses bring such a charm and community to the area that I feel like we’re pretty essential, you know, to the city,” she said
Tyler Becker, the public information officer for the city of San Diego communications department could not comment on pending claims. They confirmed only that the claim was received in February and the following statement:
"The University Avenue Mobility Project (UAMP) was designed to ensure safer travel for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit within one of the most densely populated areas of San Diego. Two of the main objectives during the planning phase and feasibility analysis of this project were to maintain the balance between pedestrians, bicyclists, transit operations and vehicular flow while providing reasonable travel speeds and acceptable delays to the motoring public, and also look for ways to improve transit operations. The UAMP significantly reduces and limits conflict points between vehicles and pedestrians and allows for greater mobility in the area.
"Construction on the UAMP started in September 2021 and the anticipated completion is in October 2022. The city of San Diego continues to work with residents and businesses in the area to reduce any impacts caused by construction. If you would like information regarding any of the other city projects currently in the construction phase, please visit our Capital Improvements Program Project List."
“I feel like being able to be there for them when they need help, or helping them, you know, is also something that they should take account for when they’re doing projects like this because it really affects all of us,” said Covarrubias.
In the past few months, fundraisers and grants have helped the shop keep the lights on, the owners told NBC7.
For now, they're taking it day by day.
This article originally referred to the coffee shop as Deja Blue, when, in fact, the name of the business is Deja Brew. We regret the error — Ed.