Permanent Outdoor Dining in La Jolla: Is It “Visionary” or Short-Sighted?

Permanent Outdoor Dining in La Jolla: Is It “Visionary” or Short-Sighted?

Outdoor dining at Puesto

POV from a customer in Puesto’s temporary outdoor dining parklet. IG photo courtesy of @i3pos

La Jolla community planning experts are at odds over whether permanent outdoor dining will remain, even after the threat of COVID-19 has passed. Specifically, the discussion revolves around the structures and policies required to make outside dining a sustainable option. 

Currently, two entities are pressing the matter throughout La Jolla: 

Puesto, a popular La Jolla restaurant, has applied for a “placemaking pedestrian plaza.” This plaza will be a permanent structure, replacing the temporary facility that currently accommodates the restaurant and public use.

Project details, laid out by the San Diego Development Services Department, explain that this plaza or parklet is the “temporary use of public right of way and private property that activates streetscapes by enhancing the pedestrian experience and providing neighborhood-serving activities.”

While many community officials favor the project, members of the DPR Committee feel it is problematic. The basis for their issues is setting a precedent and concern of how these parklets will affect the streetscape long-term.

Secondly, on April 15, 2021, the  La Jolla Shores Association Board unanimously voted to conduct further research into creating a maintenance assessment district (MAD). The City of San Diego defines MAD as a “legal mechanism by which property owners can vote to assess themselves to pay and receive services above-and-beyond what the City of San Diego normally provides.”  

The purpose of the Shores Association Board’s MAD request is to make outdoor dining permanent. 

The Shores Association Board has cited the Bird Rock MAD as a testament to their expected success.

Again, many community members are supportive of the initiative, but the issue of long-term development continues the debate.