Are Ocean Beach Restaurants Ready to Give Back Our Public Spaces?

by on March 19, 2021 · 18 comments

in Ocean Beach

THC outdoors looks permanent.

With restaurants able to have 25% capacity now that San Diego County is in the Red Tier, we’re wondering whether OB eateries are ready to give back all that public space they grabbed during the pandemic in order to keep their doors open.

Anyone who has been on Newport Avenue or Voltaire Street knows what we’re talking about. Local restaurants commandeered parts of sidewalks and parking spaces to be able to offer outdoor dining, and those bars who were able  to arrange food service are also in that same boat.

And many in the community have been sympathetic to their plight and understanding as part of the public and willing to give up some of our public space. We all knew it was temporary. To last only as long as the pandemic lasted.

So, as the county restrictions are carefully and slowly lifted, will all these businesses be dismantling the outdoor dining structures they’ve constructed over the last year? Some of these structures are quite hardy and almost give the impression they’re here to stay.

We have no doubt that the restaurants – when they return to “normal” – will gladly return to their proper spaces and allow the public to walk and park as before. We’re just curious as to how long it will take.

As a side note, some of the temporary structures appeared to add to the problem – those with tight canopies and tent-like coverings over the sidewalks – and made new enclosures that were just as dangerous as the inside.

Here are some of the examples we’re talking about:

Nova – the place for easy Kombucha. All photos by Frank Gormlie

Arguably, OB’s most famous restaurant, Hodad’s used surf boards to protect their outdoor space.

The Joint and their neighbor took over this part of Cable. There’s almost enough wood to make a granny flat.

Breakfast Republic added heaters.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean March 19, 2021 at 11:20 am

Geez, the way this is framed – “comandeered” “grabbed” – you’d think it was a nefarious attempt by local businesses to take over Newport instead of what it was…the only way to survive.


Dave in OB March 19, 2021 at 11:58 am

I’d rather they close the main drag of Newport to auto traffic or make it a one way street.


Fstu March 20, 2021 at 1:14 pm

I think that is a great idea at least the last block ort the last 2 block open it to traffic in the morning for several hours for supplies etc. and then close it down or 1 lane it and maintain the outdoor dining and the sidewalk ambience. I believe Amsterdam has some neighbors like that. It seems to work out well.
The sidewalk cafes can even pay some rent to the city for the space and it becomes a win win


Eric March 22, 2021 at 11:00 pm

I agree, close Newport to car traffic!


Frank Gormlie March 24, 2021 at 1:40 pm

Anyone trying to get that done has a steep hill to climb. Do you think the merchants would go for it? I don’t. It might be a green dream but it ain’t gonna happen. A few years back the city of Eugene OR did something like that – they cut off car traffic for a 2-3 block section of their down town – and it died. Businesses closed; storefronts were boarded up. OB can’t even get a dedicated bike lane on Bacon, while the city spends $1M for a flawed ADA ramp into the sand. Where’s OB’s new lifeguard station? OB has been promised a new one for years; meanwhile, Mission got one; La Jolla got one and they’re talking about a new one for PB. Ok, sorry for the rant. But if you really believe getting rid of vehicular traffic on Newport is your thing – good luck. I would advise however on a project that has a better chance of actually happening.


Charles Best March 19, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Why not just get rid of the stinky, clunky cars? We had lunch on the sidewalk dining area in Little Italy yesterday afternoon and it was just plain wonderful. Not at all like most villages strangling under the abominable urban planning dictated by Detroit and Madison Avenue.


Lyle March 19, 2021 at 2:23 pm

I agree with the previos three commentors. I like the outside dining opportunities, but I also think some of the installations are slap-dash and/or kind of gross. I would be happy if these places remain long-term provided the city/panning board could institute some architectural standards and charge an appropriate (probably high) lease rate for this valuable property. Maybe charge enough of a lease rate to fund a parking garage over on Santa Monica or Niagara.


Frank J March 19, 2021 at 2:32 pm

In PB we lost 50 parking spaces on Garnet west of Ingraham. I’m sure many were lost on Newport. I hope there is a compromise by Independence Day or there will be zero parking and many more frustrated drivers on every side street within a mile of the beaches.


Peter from South O March 19, 2021 at 2:47 pm

Premature to be deciding this; the pandemic is still very much with us and variants have the medics very worried about a surge in cases (and the hordes of idiots on spring break are busy spreading it around the Country right now).
Nobody should be changing any of those (in some cases considerably expensive) temporary structures in the near term.
Having said that, advance decision making would be welcomed by all concerned for planning purposes, but we have seen little of that in local government lately.

Frank: Got my second Moderna yesterday, and contrary to your experience I suffered no ill effects (other than to be forced to celebrate “immunity day” on April Fools day).


Frank Gormlie March 19, 2021 at 3:46 pm

Peter – good for you. My roommate also didn’t suffer much on her second.


Charles Best March 19, 2021 at 3:04 pm

Deaths for 2020 are estimated to be 42,060. In addition to fatalities, more than 2 million people per year are seriously injured in auto accidents. compared to 536,734 Covid fatalities Streets for the People!


Mark "The Hammer" Hammond March 19, 2021 at 5:03 pm

While I don’t live in OB, my main squeeze Shirley does (love you “S”), I have for the past year lived in my Pizzera in Clairemont, trying to survive!!! I let all my employees go, except myself, and I kept 3 people i keep employed under the table, I could no longer afford the worker’s comp., and other BS taxes ect. Yes, I will survive, but stripped down, outdoor dining saved my az, yes, its getto, but i will not give up my home depot pierre d’ terre, cinderblocks and all, I am cash only now, even help is paid cash daily because who knows what tomorrow will bring.


Richard March 20, 2021 at 9:02 am

I can no longer afford workers comp and other BS taxes etc. but have no problem squatting public property.

San Diego Restaurant Association


Frank Gormlie March 20, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Ouch! Workers Compensation a “BS tax”? I hope none of your workers get injured on the job. How about unemployment? Is that also a BS tax? Harsh rectoric from someone who runs a business, I’m assuming, that we’re supposed to support.


Peter from South O March 23, 2021 at 1:44 pm

People that do what you describe often get caught. The fines are spectacular and some offenses have hefty jail sentences attached. All it is gonna take is ONE complaint to the CA Labor Board and you are SCREWED, my friend.


Stu March 20, 2021 at 1:24 pm

The out door dining is wonderful Architectural standards need to be implemented Close off Newport at least a block or two and it would be great and people would love it after they got use to it
I was in Boulder Colo. when the Peart ST Mall was being designed and constructed Wow did people scream and shout. It was going to destroy the area there would be no business in any of the shops. Where would people park? They did end up building a structure after I left but Wow were they WRONG its caught on real quick and became a gathering place with street music and entertainment almost constantly and most business thrived beyond belief.


retired botanist March 20, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Temporary, right? Everybody get that? It is, after all, public space. Yes, I get it, I’m sympathetic, I understand and think the encroachment has been a life-saver for those trying to keep businesses open during such a difficult time. But I am also remembering, pre-covid, an encroachment problem on Newport that shouldn’t have occurred. So just a reminder, please return what you borrowed when the time is right. :-)


Tyler March 21, 2021 at 11:04 am

I’m glad they were built to accommodate during the circumstance but they are ugly, they’re a major safety hazard with vehicles, and they simply will not stay more than a few months so I’m not worrying about it


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