City of San Diego’s Program for Outdoor Cafes

by on March 14, 2016 · 24 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, Health, Ocean Beach, San Diego

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pedestrians now have to struggle to get past barriers erected by The Joint.

The City of San Diego has had a program for a decade now, that allows merchants and restaurants to use the sidewalks in front of their businesses.

It’s called the Public Right of Way (PROW) Program and was passed unanimously by the San Diego Planning Commission in March of 2006.

The program – according to the City’s new info website – allows:

“… merchants with ground-level storefronts in the twelve Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) will now be able to use the sidewalks in front of their businesses to place A-frame signs, limited displays of merchandise, and outdoor cafes without railings. ” (Our emphasis.)

The main Ocean Beach commercial district has such a BID – the OB Mainstreet Association.

Under the program, businesses that follow the requirements do not have to obtain a sidewalk cafe or other permit. On the local level, according to the City website:

The program will be administered by the Business Improvement Districts (BID) for a modest fee and will be enforced by the City’s Code Compliance Department.

Since the program PROW is administered by the local BID, any applications for the permission to use the sidewalk in front of the business must be submitted to the BID (OBMA in this case) by the business and receive its approval.  The applicant business must also submit a scale drawing of their proposed use.  They also have to come up with a million dollar liability insurance coverage.

PROW also requires:

Participating merchants will also need to attend a free training demonstration to learn how to comply with the regulations.

So, presumably, managers or owners of The Joint and the new OB Brewery had to attend this seminar. Did it help, we wonder.

When the program was passed back in 2006, there were concerns for the accessibility of disabled persons under the new rules. Here is what the website says:

One significant issue that the adopted program addressed is the disabled community’s concern that encroachment onto the sidewalk is dangerous for them. The San Diego’s Sub-Committee for Reducing Architectural Barriers (SCRAB), the watchdog for the disabled community, unanimously approved and supports the new pilot program because special attention in drafting the program was given to the needs of the disabled.

Nevertheless, it’s our opinion, that The Joint and OB Brewery have recently installed outdoor railings and fixtures which do not comply with PROW, are dangerous for pedestrians, and should be removed.

At the moment, no one within the City seems to be listening. We understand that the OBMA supports PROW but not permanent railings or fixtures.

Here is the full statement on the City’s website about the right-of-way program:

Through the public Right-of-Way enhancement program, merchants with ground-level storefronts in the twelve Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) will now be able to use the sidewalks in front of their businesses to place A-frame signs, limited displays of merchandise, and outdoor cafes without railings. The Public Right of Way Enhancement/Use Program (PROW) is a program designed to provide a lively experience for pedestrians and diners and give merchants more leeway to expand their businesses and enhance their income.

During a public hearing in March 2006 the City of San Diego Planning Commission unanimously approved the program. One significant issue that the adopted program addressed is the disabled community’s concern that encroachment onto the sidewalk is dangerous for them. The San Diego’s Sub-Committee for Reducing Architectural Barriers (SCRAB), the watchdog for the disabled community, unanimously approved and supports the new pilot program because special attention in drafting the program was given to the needs of the disabled.

PROW is governed by a 24-page booklet that contains display guidelines and technical illustrations. For more information see the PROW Program (PDF). Merchants who follow the required regulations will not have to obtain a sidewalk cafe or other discretionary permit. The program will be administered by the Business Improvement Districts (BID) for a modest fee and will be enforced by the City’s Code Compliance Department.

An application for permission to use the sidewalk must be submitted to the BID and have their approval. A scale drawing of the proposed use should be submitted with the application. Businesses need to provide evidence of one million dollars of liability insurance naming the City and others as additional insured. Participating merchants will also need to attend a free training demonstration to learn how to comply with the regulations.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

tia March 14, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Thanks, Frank. Excellent article. I’m guessing someone Will listen –after the first injury occurs and/or lawsuit is filed. Just think this is stooopidly dangerous.

Reply

triggerfinger March 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm

“We understand that the OBMA supports PROW but not permanent railings or fixtures.”

You say this, but OBMA has approved 3 so far with permanent railings.

Reply

cg March 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm

How do you know that the OBMA approved them?

Reply

triggerfinger March 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm

The article above says OBMA/BID approves them. And they got built. Other than that I don’t know.

Reply

cg March 14, 2016 at 4:02 pm

The PROW program described in the article is for outdoor cafes without railings. As far as I know it is the San Diego Development Services that approves outdoor cafes with railings, and not the OBMA.

Reply

RC92107 March 14, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Frank, when you say, “Nevertheless, it’s our opinion, that The Joint and OB Brewery have recently installed outdoor railings and fixtures which do not comply with PROW, are dangerous for pedestrians, and should be removed.” Who are you speaking for? You are not speaking for the citizens of OB or the citizens of San Diego. Your squeaky wheel methods are tiring.

Reply

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

RC- I want you to think about the role of the press, think about how the press – especially citizen journalists – can help hold government’s feet to the fire, to be the conscience of the community. The OB Rag speaks for the 2000 readers we have on a daily basis, who keep coming back. If you wish, try the SD U-T, or that ad rag the Beacon, or …..

Reply

triggerfinger March 15, 2016 at 9:35 am

The ob brewery patio is compliant. The Joint patio is not. That’s a fact, not an opinion. I’m going to buy new tape measures for all the city inspectors.

Reply

korla Eaquinta March 14, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Thank you for this information. I was walking by the new Pho restaurant on Rosecrans and Talbot and noticed their fence juts into the walkway and due to the fence and sigh posts and street lights, only one person at a time can move through there.
They want to put a sidewalk cafe where they are developing the old Blockbuster property on Rosecrans and Shelter Island Drive. The discussion, as I remember it, was about the sidewalk being wider than usual to allow for this encroachment.
These other sidewalk cafes are being placed on a regular width sidewalk and if it got crowded, I could see people stepping into the street. Rosecrans is a very busy street and I think this is dangerous.

Reply

Harry March 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Maybe I’m missing something but is this really that big a deal? I’ve walked by both locations and I didn’t have to “struggle” at all. I just walked by. Yes, the sidewalk is a bit narrower, but it’s not as if I was tiptoeing on the edge of a precipice. Your illustrative picture shows a shopper blithely walking along with her shopping bag having no apparent difficulty. If the general populace is as offended as the author is, they’ll avoid the place, the owner will find out, and remove the rail. So far, not so much. Give it a rest.

Reply

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

Harry, ok, now imagine you along with a couple pushing a babystroller, a couple walking hand in hand, a woman jogging by, another guy with a dog, and a guy in a wheelchair all trying to get through there on a busy afternoon. So, you were able to walk through without a struggle. Ain’t you lucky.

Reply

Steve A. March 15, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Harry, have you tried walking by the Joint during the Farmer’s Market? It’s a nightmare. On normal days, my neighbor who is bound to his electric wheelchair cannot pass by the Joint when someone else trying to pass by. There is a little bit of room but he does not want to run over someone’s foot or dog with this 400 lb wheelchair.

Reply

Liveinob March 14, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Thanks Frank for getting this out there.
I heard that it’s not illegal, it’s to “code” & too bad, so sad, there’s nothing we can do! Looks like the OBMA hasn’t walked the walk!
The Joint is just blatant & has no regard to the OB community!
So I won’t go there or recommend it to people
Maybe I need to start smoking, and hang out by the railing on a farmers market Wednesday!
And Harry?, you are missing something
Imo

Reply

Steve March 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

Frank,
I too wonder who you are speaking for. It certainly isn’t me or anyone I know. You’re seriously bitching and moaning about outdoor seating by the beach. It could rain $100 bills and you’d find a reason to complain about it. The Joint did everything to city code. You mention “Harry, ok, now imagine you along with a couple pushing a babystroller, a couple walking hand in hand, a woman jogging by, another guy with a dog, and a guy in a wheelchair all trying to get through there on a busy afternoon.” So now you’re worrying about possible hypothetical situations that may or may not happen? In your example I’d answer “well, hopefully each party would take 30 seconds away from being a completely self absorbed asshole and take turns walking through.” I doubt you’d have that capacity though as you’d probably just cruise through because apparently, you’re the only one that matters. Liveinob, you write “The Joint is just blatant & has no regard to the OB community!” – Well, they do employ almost 100% Obecians and they do give back to the OB community via fundraising events for local schools. What are you doing to lift the OB community, Liveinob? It’s unreal to me that people are complaining about outdoor seating in a beach town that has almost no outdoor cafes. If this is the biggest problem in your busy-body lives, you’re very lucky and should be counting your blessings instead about bitching about such trivial things.

Reply

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 15, 2016 at 9:28 am

“Steve” – you’re right, compared to the rise of fascism and Trumpism and global warming, this issue isn’t very large on that scale. So, excuse us if we complain about unsafe conditions in the village.

I will repeat what I just said to another: want you to think about the role of the press, think about how the press – especially citizen journalists – can help hold government’s feet to the fire, to be the conscience of the community, to be a platform for the community that doesn’t have one, to carry on the traditions that made OB a great place to live. The OB Rag speaks for the 2000 readers we have on a daily basis, who keep coming back. If you wish, try the SD U-T, or that ad rag the Beacon, or local network television news….. Bottom line – why are you here?

Reply

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 15, 2016 at 9:31 am

However, “Steve” , if you’d like to carry on a civil debate / discussion on local issues, go ahead, that’s why we’re here. If commenters can be civil even while disagreeing with one another, that’s one reason we’re here.

In response to your “What are you doing to lift the OB community?”, I invite you to peruse the pages of this blog/ platform – yeah, spend some time here and check out what we’ve been doing these last 9 years. Then look in the mirror.

Reply

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 15, 2016 at 9:33 am

And finally, “Steve” – we took this issue up in response to readers’ complaints about The Joint and OB Brewery.

Reply

Eric Gerhardt March 15, 2016 at 11:11 am

Thanks for you attention to this issue. Public property is public. If sidewalk seating is accepted by some, then the public should get something in return like regular sidewalk pressure washing an area 5 times the size of their acquired space.

Reply

Tom G March 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for bringing up this issue. As someone who walks past these businesses regularly I have noticed the trouble when the sidewalks are only moderately busy. I know I’ll be avoiding both areas during the summer. I wonder how it will affect the business of their neighbors during the summer months. If the OBMA did approve them I’ll just add it to the list of other things they’ve screwed up in their own interest, with little regard for locals.

Reply

TheRealOB March 15, 2016 at 11:51 pm

I also wonder who you think you are speaking for because its not me and its not my friends or the people I know and see in Ob everyday.

Stop acting like you represent OB. Your views are far from progressive, in fact they are are biased, full of anger and only appeal to a small group of what looks like friends of the columnists. Even your responses to people debating your options are condescending and unthoughtful. Not only with your redundant articles about this issue but also your other unrelatable, insensitive and tactless articles including :
*Women Vs. Men by ANNIE LANE on FEBRUARY 29, 2016, which touches on sexist and racist ideas.
*Stumps Market gets the widder curry’s goat by JUDI CURRY on DECEMBER 30, 2014 , which is ab a personal experience that shows the abuse of the editors position while using disrespectful language and actions towards workers for a minor issue that doesn’t affect the community as a whole
*Public Service Announcement: Do Not Nail or Tack Any Notices to Living Trees
by STAFF on SEPTEMBER 21, 2015 , which shows how insensitive the columnist at the Rag can be since this article shows a picture of a pinned a flyer of of a dog who was attacked and killed at dog beach. The “STAFF” member who wrote this article did not even show any condolences to the owner of the dog who is obviously already dealing with a very difficult situation. Trees are resilient and can repair themselves, something like a push pin or nail usually doesn’t even go past the bark. That person’s dog is gone forever.

When have you highlighted the good things that local makers in our community have done? Why don’t you talk about the donations to OB elementary that have been given by The Joint and all other local businesses instead of just focusing on select ones? Why do you refer people to get a job at The Ob Warehouse, which hires outside of Ob instead of places that are truly local and are small businesses in the area that hire Obecians and provide jobs for people in our own community?

I for one am tired of reading your biased articles and have no choice but to stop feeding my mind with this worthless jargon. If you want to be progressive, be productive. Bashing locals and their businesses publicly does nothing but cause a gap in progression in our own community. Hopefully you guys will one day branch out and find new columnists that can provide a fresh take on local views and what the community actually wants and need.

Reply

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 16, 2016 at 9:46 am

“TheRealOB” – it’s true, some mornings I can get grouchy in my replies to a nasty or insensitive comment here or there.

But as for the rest of your accusations and the few examples that you cherry-picked from literally the thousands of our articles – which do show, I’m afraid, that your claim to be “progressive” and “the real OB”are very hollow indeed – I can only both refer you to the mainstream press and to the following assertion that the OB Rag acts as “the conscience of OB”.
http://obrag.org/?p=103375

Reply

Doug Porter March 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

Anybody who complains about “bias” at a site whose logo pretty much says it all is just plain lacking up top. Don’t like it? Fine. Go somewhere else.

Reply

Barbara March 16, 2016 at 11:32 am

Hahahahahaha! TheRealOB is very funny to me. Is anybody else laughing?

I can’t figure out if TheRealOB is a regular reader similar to a reader of a thriller writer I once knew. This thriller writer received a review of his 14th book that said, “Your book is Sooooo bad. It’s even worse than the other 13 bad ones I read before this one!”

Or whether TheRealOB is pretending to be “The Donald” by dismissing the concerns of the disabled.

Reply

rick callejon March 16, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Dear TheRealOB,

Your certitude matches your misguided screed.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: