The city of Encinitas has threatened to revoke a critical permit that allows some restaurants to operate on sidewalks and city streets if those restaurants willfully violate current public health orders.
Early observations indicate the strategy may be working.
“The city is saying to restaurants that they cannot use the city’s property to violate the county health order,” said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.
The mayor outlined her plan to revoke the so-called "encroachment permits" on Dec. 31. Since then, compliance officers have reached out to businesses advising them of the city crackdown.
“It’s unfortunate, but I understand it,” said Eric Soto, owner of Encinitas Café.
Soto is one of dozens of restaurant owners along Highway 101 who’ve been able to set up extra outdoor tables, after the city set up temporary barriers adding additional space on public parking spaces in July.
“It was vital, especially when we had just outdoor dining to us, coming close to just breaking even, so it really helped us a lot through these tough times,” said Soto.
But since the most recent state shutdown order, some restaurants have defiantly stayed open using those public spaces.
“The city’s right of way is something that we had opened to them because we want, we care about our businesses, and we have compassion for what they’re going through, and we want them to be successful,” said Blakespear.
Mayor Blakespear said city code enforcement officers have reached out to businesses advising them of potential revocation for businesses in violation.
“One of the reasons that we want them to continue to have the encroachment permit, even though they can’t operate in it, is that we want them to be able to pivot quickly and reopen when the restriction lifts,” said Blakespear.
On Tuesday afternoon, there did not appear to be any blatant violators of the health orders.
“We took it very seriously. We don’t want to lose this especially when they do allow us to reopen and sit outside. We want to be able to keep this,” said Soto.