La Jolla Village Merchants Association in July discussed numerous alternatives for freeing up outdoor space now that indoor dining has been temporarily banned again, including painting curbs to shorten parking limits and setting up outdoor cafes and parklets.
“COVID has changed our business model quite a bit,” said LJVMA executive director Jodi Rudick. She added merchants want to free up more outdoor space for customer pick-up. “They’ve been asking us if we might be willing to approve or support green curbs changing 90-minute parking to 15- or 30-minutes.”
Rudick cited Mike Eastwood, owner of Smallgoods Cheese Shop & Cafe at 7524 La Jolla Blvd., as one example. “He wants his customers, along with other restaurants on the same street, to be able to run in and pick up what they need without having to search for parking,” she said.
Eastwood characterized the existing two-hour parking limit in front of his street as “devastating for our business and the salons around us. We have happily agreed to seek a 15-minute parking zone with support from LJVMA.”
Eastwood recently put a petition out for nearby merchants to sign.
“We’ve received the unanimous support of every business on our street, 12 pages of customers and neighbors, who also support this idea as well as that of curbside pick-up,” he said.
Added Eastwood, “COVID has made people extremely sensitive about getting out of their cars to access our shops, and don’t want to double park. I’m asking for the community’s support for new short-term parking on La Jolla Boulevard.”
“I support converting parking space to 15 minutes directly in front of their stores,” said LJVMA president Brett Murphy.
District 1 staffer Steve Hadley pointed out implementing desired parking-limit changes has hit an early roadblock. “The Council office has asked for temporary curb pick-up zones, but that request was denied,” he said. “We will continue to push for temporary, pick-up parking during COVID.”
Rudick cautioned that temporary curb pick-up should be sought on a case-by-case basis because it would be virtually impossible for every merchant to get 15-minute parking in front of their store.
“We’re going down the right path,” she concluded.
Regarding temporary business permits for operating outdoors, Rudick referred to Mayor Faulconer’s recent signing of an executive order allowing outdoor dining by restaurants on sidewalks and in private parking lots.
“It’s a very big deal that really clears the way for people to take matters into their own hands, while following all the rules, including ADA guidelines,” Rudick said while cautioning, “More sidewalk cafes will not be allowed without permits.”
Rudick said the City is also considering businesses to use parklets, sidewalk extensions providing more space and amenities for people using the street, usually installed on parking lanes. “This would allow businesses, not just restaurants, to encroach into parking spaces that are adjacent to their storefront,” she said. “That would give those who need it extra space to accommodate customers, and the ability to do that.”
Rudick noted the Business Improvement District Alliance, which LJVMA belongs to, is continuing to push for relaxing of standards to allow outdoor dining and curbside pick-up. “Our hope is that all our restaurants will stay afloat through this indoor dining ban,” she said.