New outdoor dining program temporarily closes parking spaces on stretch of Pacific Beach’s Ocean Boulevard

Pacific Beach Shore Club is one of the restaurants adding tables as part of an outdoor dining initiative on Ocean Boulevard.
Pacific Beach Shore Club is one of the restaurants adding tables as part of a new outdoor dining initiative on Ocean Boulevard between Grand and Thomas avenues.

Starting this weekend, 26 parking spaces on Ocean Boulevard between Grand and Thomas avenues in Pacific Beach will be temporarily closed to make room for outdoor dining for nearby restaurants.

Signs posted indicate there will be no parking there through Dec. 30.

Doug Sondomowicz, owner of Pacific Beach Shore Club at 4343 Ocean Blvd., said he worked with the city of San Diego, the police and fire departments and the California Coastal Commission for five weeks to get permits approved.

PB Shore Club is adding 22 tables, bringing the restaurant to about two-thirds of the seating capacity it had before restrictions caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Sondomowicz told ABC10 TV.

“Originally, we laid off every employee we had here … hopefully with this we will get closer to that 100 percent employee mark,” Sondomowicz told the station. “During these trying times with COVID-19, the city has been gracious to let us use this and be able to keep us open and try to employ more people. And give locals and tourists options to be able to eat outside beachfront.”

Waterbar, at 4325 Ocean Blvd., is adding about 20 tables.

With indoor service shut down in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, restaurants around San Diego have been establishing or expanding outdoor dining with government blessing.

Restaurants in La Jolla Shores have decided to seek a permit extension allowing the daily closure of a block of Avenida de la Playa for outdoor dining to continue through the end of the year, and opted to retain an overnight security guard through at least October.

Sara Berns, executive director of Discover Pacific Beach, the community’s nonprofit business improvement district, said in an email to PB Monthly on Aug. 22 that “we have been assisting business all over PB with the permit process to set up what we call pedestrian plazas in public parking spaces.”

Pedestrian plazas, also known as parklets, “refer to using on-street parking to create space for ‘pedestrians,’ or not cars. In this case, they are being used for dining tables and chairs,” Berns said.

“Our businesses are struggling, as everyone knows, and businesses have been closed or operating at a third of their occupancy for over five months,” she said. “Businesses not able to operate are jobs that people are not working. Outdoor dining is giving our businesses a much-needed lifeline to make it through this pandemic, as none of us know how long this will last.”

But some Pacific Beach residents say parking in the area is already hard to come by and that this will make it even harder.

Resident Robert Gally has other concerns as well. “A lot of times I see police responding out here. I see fights. There’s loud music. Knowing that they’re going to be outside is just making it even worse. So, I’m very upset,” he told ABC10.

But resident Cindy Palus said she supports the idea. “I think it’s advocating for people to get outside and walk. It’s not a big deal and I think the businesses need it,” she told the station. “I think it’s great. I think we’re supporting the economy.”