Coastal Commission OKs ‘Spaces as Places’ parking replacement requirement for beach areas

The "beach impact area" is shown in green.
The “beach impact area” — shown in green — is where “Spaces as Places” businesses will have to replace public parking occupied by outdoor operations.
(City of San Diego)

Two Ocean Beach locations are affected by regulations requiring public parking occupied by outdoor dining to be replaced with an equivalent number of spaces elsewhere.


The California Coastal Commission has approved the city of San Diego’s “Spaces as Places” regulations requiring some businesses in the coastal zone to replace public parking occupied by outdoor dining.

The Spaces as Places program — guidelines launched during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow restaurants to seat patrons on sidewalks and parking spots during the closure of indoor dining — was made permanent in 2021.

The Coastal Commission, however, had concerns about the elimination of parking spots in a narrow strip of San Diego’s coastline known as the “beach impact area,” which begins at the north end of the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla and runs about 15 miles south to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma.

A loss of parking can mean a loss of public beach access, and the commission asked the City Council to amend the program to require restaurants to replace any public parking they occupy with an equivalent number of spaces elsewhere. The council did so May 22.

The commission approved the city’s addition of the parking replacement requirement Aug. 10 and the city is now able to permit Spaces as Places locations in the overall coastal zone, according to city representative Perette Godwin.

Temporary outdoor operations that were permitted during the COVID emergency may be maintained while an application for a permit under the newly authorized regulations is in process, Godwin said.

Enforcement of the new regulations is to begin Monday, Sept. 11.

The beach impact area goes inland about a quarter-mile for most areas of the coastal zone, Godwin said, though it does exceed a quarter-mile in some places.

A city map of Spaces as Places permit applications can be found at

According to the map, three addresses in Point Loma and Ocean Beach have applications for Spaces as Places permits. Two of them are in the beach impact area (indicated by asterisks):

• 4902 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach (The Joint) *

• 4845 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach (Nova Easy Kombucha) *

• 4161 Voltaire St., Point Loma (Cesarina)

Patricia Sobue, a representative of Nova Easy Kombucha, which serves fermented tea drinks, said: “We would like to keep our patio and we are in contact with the city of San Diego to better understand how we can replace the parking spots. We don’t know how to proceed about this.”

Representatives of The Joint, a restaurant that specializes in sushi and tapas, did not respond to a request for comment.

Local supporters of the parking replacement rule have said street parking near the beach is needed and, given that the COVID emergency is over, it’s time for street dining installed during the pandemic to go if replacement parking can’t be provided.

Opponents say the rule will unnecessarily and unfairly cause coastal restaurants to lose business to areas not subject to the requirement.

When enforcement begins, penalties for non-compliance “will be issued in accordance with the San Diego municipal code by the Development Services Department’s Building and Land Use Enforcement Division,” Godwin said.

For easily correctable violations, an administrative citation may be issued, with penalties ranging from a warning to $1,000.

For violations that have a significant impact or may need permits to achieve compliance, “a civil penalty notice and order would typically be issued,” Godwin said. That comes with penalties accumulated daily and “only collected in a hearing if the property remains in violation,” she said.

— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.


12:46 p.m. Aug. 28, 2023: This article was updated with a comment from Nova Easy Kombucha.


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