University Avenue Parklets could disappear sooner than expected – NBC 7 San Diego
Steve Billings couldn’t believe it.
He got a permit and spent around $ 10,000 on an outdoor dining area just outside The Original 40 Brewing Company. He predicted he would be able to keep the parklet along University Avenue in North Park at least until next summer.
“No one ever said they could pull this off in a month or two,” the businessman said.
That was until he and several other North Park restaurant owners were told they would have to remove their parklets to make way for the City of San Diego to build the University Avenue Mobility Project, which is installing cycle and bus lanes and a median, while removing parking. spots and parklets.
Billings said he and the other business owners were caught off guard. He called the parklets a lifeline during the pandemic, and some of the restaurants around University Avenue have only recently put theirs into operation.
“It’s devastating to think that we might have to live without them,” Billings said. “Not only is it a success for me, but it is also a success for the customers. “
“No one would have put a structure in place knowing they were going to have to take it down in one, two, maybe even six months,” said Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street, which represents more than 700 companies. Some of these companies invested thousands of dollars in parklets just a few weeks ago.
“I think we definitely would have invested some more money, but not that much money,” Billings said.
Landsberg said a city contractor has informed several Main Street members that their parklets will have to come down to make room for construction.
“I think someone dropped the ball and didn’t reach out to businesses to let them know they were going to have to remove their parklets in a short period of time,” she said.
NBC 7 has contacted the city and Pro Tem Council Chairman Stephen Whitburn, who represents North Park.
A city spokesperson issued the statement: “The University Avenue Mobility Project is installing various multimodal upgrades along University Avenue to improve safety and mobility. The City of San Diego is working individually with companies that have authorized temporary outdoor commercial operations to relocate and relocate operations located to where the work will take place as early as possible, exceeding the minimum 10 day notice that must be provided. In addition, some exterior operations will not be replaced on University Avenue after the installation of the new infrastructure. In these cases, the City will help businesses explore alternative solutions to relocate their activities. “
Landsberg said the city should have done a better job setting a construction schedule and communicating that schedule to companies and the department issuing permits for the parklets. She said the city should not have approved the permits knowing the construction would cancel the work.
“We just need better coordination,” she said. “It takes time. It’s not something that can be done in 10 days.
Councilor Whitburn also released a statement:
“I share the frustration of our small businesses. Our office has advocated and will continue to advocate for a strong commitment to urban projects within our district. We will continue to work with our small businesses and municipal staff to find solutions. It is important to remember that these are not just local businesses, it is people’s livelihoods and they deserve to be engaged and informed about actions that affect them.
“It’s completely unfair,” said Billings, who argued that the loss of its parking lot will put its brewery at a disadvantage compared to a competitor with an outdoor seating area.
He just wished he had more time and more warning. “Let’s rebuild our bank accounts. Let’s get our feet back on the ground, ”he said.
On Tuesday, city council approved the Spaces as Places program, which will permanently allow alfresco dining in spaces previously allowed to expand only temporarily in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.