San Diego City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to extend and expand a temporary order allowing certain brick-and-mortar companies to request the use of an outdoor park during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ordinance will remove public park usage fees for places of worship and businesses such as restaurants, gyms, yoga studios, or any domestic business forced to restrict business practices due to stay orders. home.
All businesses or entities requesting use of the land must adhere to the guidelines for “Appropriate Park Use” as outlined in the city charter, must have a physical brick and mortar site and must continue to adhere to the local, state and federal social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines.
City Councilor Chris Cate first proposed the idea in mid-July 2020, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a similar ordinance for county parks on August 5, 2020. The mayor of l then Kevin Faulconer issued an executive order on August 24 authorizing the houses. worship and fitness businesses to request use of a public park and delay payment of fees for 60 days.
The ordinance passed on Tuesday would remove the land fee and remain in effect until companies can safely resume domestic operations or December 31, 2021 – whichever comes first. The fee waivers are also retroactive to August 31, 2020.
According to Karen Dennison of the city’s Parks and Recreation department, removing this fee will not result in any loss of revenue for the city, as all of those businesses capable of claiming the use of park land would have normally operated in their own. local.
Council members Monica Montgomery Steppe and Joe LaCava have raised concerns over the timing of the order as San Diego County continues to set records for the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and associated deaths.
“We have to thread the needle between ordering stay-at-home and launching a little lifeline for these businesses,” LaCava said.
Several other members mentioned that not all parts of the city are created equal. While San Diego has hundreds of parks, 26 miles of coastline, and 57 recreation centers, they are not evenly distributed across the city.
City Councilor Vivian Moreno urged the Parks and Recreation Department to assess requests to help struggling businesses and regular use of the park by residents on a daily basis. Its District 8, which covers the entire southern panhandle of San Diego as well as Sherman and Logan Heights, Barrio Logan and Grant Hill, has a high proportion of multi-family dwellings.
“The city’s parks serve as a backyard for many residents of District 8,” she said.
Morena and City Councilor Sean Elo-Rivera called on city departments to consider fairness when approving applications, but ultimately agreed it could help keep struggling businesses afloat.
The city has issued 105 permits for the use of public parks since the initial ordinance took effect last year.
New permits will be available on a first come, first served basis for each park depending on local demand and the total space available. Applicants can find the requirements and more details here.
– City information service