People carrying a table to a parking space.

Send a Letter to the Mayor & City Council to Show your Support for Open Air Dining San Diego

Send a Letter to the Mayor & City Council to Show your Support for Open Air Dining San Diego to Help Businesses Utilize the Public Right of Way during COVID-19

A diverse group of organizations is requesting that the Mayor and City Council consider changes to the special events permits to allow dining and physical distancing for designated businesses.  Join us in requesting that this extra public space be used to provide safer conditions for social distancing due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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May 27, 2020 

The Honorable Kevin Faulconer
Mayor City of San Diego
202 C Street, 11th Floor
San Diego, CA 92101 


Open Air Dining San Diego: Request for an Expedited Permitting Process to Allow San Diego Businesses to Utilize Public Right of Way


Dear Mayor Faulconer,

On May 20th the State approved the County of San Diego’s request to allow the region to accelerate the reopening of the local economy. San Diego is moving further into Stage 2 of the California Resiliency Roadmap.  Under the proposal, in-person dining at restaurants and retail shopping is allowed, as long as businesses enact social distancing measures and follow various restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many restaurants, retail establishments and small businesses in San Diego are submitting plans to the County to reopen as a result of Governor Newsom’s announcement allowing a transition from Phase II to Phase III reopening. We should comply with all regulations and facilitate a safe opening by expanding the use of the public right of way to accommodate mobility options such as bicycling, walking and utilizing more public space for shopping and dining while preserving accessibility.

It is critical that we remain flexible and innovative in these unprecedented times to facilitate the reopening of restaurants and businesses while also ensuring their ability to comply with social distancing requirements. To accommodate this, we have identified specific recommendations for the use of the innovative use of special event permits and public right-of-way (PROW) permits and that would enable a swift and safe opening of restaurants that could be referred to as the “Open Air Dining San Diego” program.

We request the following 3 measures be implemented by the City of San Diego:

  1. An expedited process to allow non-profits to apply for special event permits exempted from CEQA that would allow for innovative use of sidewalk areas, parking lanes, streets, or adjacent parking lots through an expanded business footprint for patio dining.
  2. Fast-tracking of Public-Right of Way (PROW) permits for businesses setting up tables and chairs in these newly identified expanded footprints.
  3. Waive the need for Police & Fire Department fees or SETC traffic personnel associated with these new special event permits.

New Alcohol and Beverage control regulations allow for businesses licensed to serve alcohol to apply for a permit to expand their footprint into adjacent property including the public right of way. The application requires a diagram that could also be used by the City of San Diego in an expedited approval process for the applicable Special Event Permit.

Many businesses may not be viable under the required social distancing guidelines, nor will some survive the time it currently takes to secure a Special Event Permit to expand their offerings and gain a critical number of customers. The requested measures will help those businesses and our business districts while preserving the public’s health and safety. As stated by the Downtown San Diego Partnership in their May 20th letter, our commercial zones are suffering, and these zones provide thousands of jobs, important services, and social and entertainment outlets for our residents and visitors. 

This is a matter of protecting public health, supporting our local businesses and making use of our public streets to enable San Diego businesses to reopen both quickly and safely.

We look forward to working with you on the Open Air Dining San Diego program.




And feel free to add these important CCs:,,,,,,,,,,,

Road closed to thru traffic sign with bicycles

District 9 Seeks Community Input for SlowStreets By May 1 Support Safer Places for People to Walk and Ride

ACTION ITEM Please fill out this form by May 1 if you live or ride in City Council District 9

Road closed to thru traffic sign with bicyclesCouncil District 9 Slow Streets Input Form

Council President Gomez would like to find out from our D9 neighborhoods, planning groups, business districts and advocates thoughts and ideas for bringing the slow streets movement to District 9. She would like your feedback as we consider this initiative. Please provide your feedback by May 1, 2020. If you have questions, please contact Lara Gates, Deputy Chief of Staff, at


Just to note, under this initiative, these streets would not be closed to emergency vehicles or local traffic that must use these streets to access a final destination and would not affect transit routes.

Action Item: Send a Letter

Send a Letter to the Mayor & City Council to Show your Support for Creating More Slow Streets for People to Walk and Ride Safely

Send a Letter to the Mayor & City Council to Show your Support for Creating Safer Places for People to Walk and Ride Safely

A diverse group of organizations are requesting the Mayor and City Council provide adequate space & facilities for social distancing due to the COVID-19 crisis. With the decrease in vehicles on our streets, and the need to provide space for people to walk and ride safely,  join us in requesting that this extra street space be used to provide safer conditions for everyone.

Click the green button below to can send a pre-written letter, or tell your own story and write your own.

Click here to send an email right now


Write your own personal message to Modify this sample letter and copy/paste to your personal email app.


Dear Mayor Faulconer,

Thank you for taking action by beginning to implement Slow Streets during the current public health emergency in San Diego. Bold action is required to flatten the curve and ensure the safety of every resident of the city and more neighborhoods could benefit from Slow Streets.

My family and I use sidewalks and bikeways to access both essential services and get much needed outdoor recreation that provides both physical and mental health benefits.  With the recent implementation of social distancing measures, however, it has become difficult for me and my family to walk and bike safely while ensuring proper 6 foot social distancing from other people doing the same. Meanwhile, the reduction in typical traffic means that our streets have cars that are driving faster than ever, making the choice between a crowded sidewalk or bikeway and fast-moving vehicular traffic both difficult and dangerous.

To mitigate these challenges, I request that the city considers the health and safety of all residents, and reallocate the extra street space from the reduction in vehicular traffic for the use of people walking and biking in more neighborhoods. This can be done by placing “no through traffic” signs on some streets, and reducing the number of vehicular lanes and increasing pedestrian and bicyclist space on others. Furthermore, I request that the city automate the pedestrian walk lights at traffic intersections across the city, because it is not safe to press pedestrian walk buttons and to practice safe hygiene.

I would like to see San Diego join the ranks of other forward-thinking cities implementing similar actions, such as Oakland, CA (Oakland is adding 5 miles of Slow Streets per week), Burlington, VT,  Boston, MA, Denver, CO, and many other cities. I support the joint letter sent out by the diverse coalition of advocacy organizations here in San Diego and would like to see a hyperlocal walking & biking network in my community.

Thank you again for your strong leadership during this critical time for not only the City of San Diego, but the world at large. Thank you for beginning the implementation of Slow Streets. I look forward to seeing our city continue to take bold and immediate action in fighting the spread of COVID-19, and continue to ensure the health and safety of residents.




And feel free to add these important CCs:,,,,,,,,,

BikeSD Letter graphic

Letter to the Mayor re: District 2 Recommendations for Transportation Actions as COVID-19 Response

The communities in District 2 have been drastically impacted by the closures of bikeways, pathways, and trails due to the COVID-19 crisis. We support these efforts, as we understand that these trails were overcrowded, and social distancing was not feasible. We want to encourage our leadership to support efforts to create safer space for our residents.


Residents need to be able to make essential trips safely, and many need to spend time outside for their mental and physical health. They understand that walking and biking are great ways to move throughout the community. 


The recommendations provided below for District 2 have previously been vetted by community organizations and plans, and through City planning documents as proposed bikeways, pathways, or important corridors for safety. While we would defer to city engineers to devise specific remedies at this time, the proposed corridors can be categorized based on those previous proposals, to facilitate access to essential needs.


Our first recommendation is to follow the efforts underway in Oakland, referred to as Oakland Slow Streets.


“Given the emergency physical distancing requirement, coupled with fewer cars on our roads, we need to acknowledge that people will be outdoors for a little personal exercise, and our responsibility is to make sure that it happens in as safe a manner as possible,” said Councilmember Dan Kalb, chair of the City’s Public Works Committee.

The City of Oakland will work closely with neighborhood residents and community organizations to install signs and temporary barricades along Oakland Slow Streets and at key intersections. Residents will also be encouraged to print Oakland Slow Street signs and post them in their neighborhoods. 

Below is an initial list of recommended streets to be closed to through traffic. The supporting organizations will continue to conduct community outreach to gather suggestions to further expand the network of open streets:


  1. Mission Blvd from Pacific Beach Drive to South Mission
  2. PB Pathways: Phase 1 and 2 (See attached map.)
  3. Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Cordova Street south of Point Loma Blvd. (This will drastically improve the safety concerns of overcrowding on the cliffs.)
  4. Bacon Street from Robb Field to Del Monte
  5. Brighton Street from Spray Street to Guizot Street
  6. Evergreen Street from Nimitz to Talbot
A second approach is to address the large, dangerous corridors where reduced vehicle volume has made it possible to dedicate a travel lane to people walking and biking:


  1. Mission Blvd from Law Street to Pacific Beach Drive
  2. West Point Loma Blvd. from Nimitz to Sports Arena
  3. Midway Drive
  4. Morena Blvd


Third, where there is limited space on the street, removal of parking to provide safe space for people walking and biking is highly recommended along these sections:


  1. East Mission Bay Drive and Mission Bay Drive
  2. Mission Blvd from Pacific Beach Drive to South Mission (This would be an addition or alternative to the above recommendation. Provide a secured parking lot for residents to use if residents have parking issues.)


Finally, we urge the City of San Diego to reopen the following trails that have created extremely unsafe riding conditions and are important active transportation corridors:


  1. The north-south bike path on the eastern edge of Robb Field and the car travel lane out to West Point Loma Blvd. (Currently, active commuters have no safe access out of OB.)
  2. Old Sea World Drive (Restrict vehicles but allow active commuters.)



We appreciate your attention to this safety matter and are available to support as needed.




Judi Tentor, Executive Director, BikeSD
Stephan Vance, District 2 Representative for City of SD Mobility Board 
Nicole Burgess, Bike Walk San Diego District 2
Noah Harris, Transportation Policy Advocate, Climate Action Campaign
Maya Rosas, Director of Policy, CirculateSD 
Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director, San Diego Bicycle Coalition
Richard Miller, Chapter Director, Sierra Club San Diego

CC: Council Member Jennifer Campbell
Council President Georgette Gomez

BikeSD Letter graphic

Letter to the Mayor re: Street Safety During COVID-19 Social Distancing

BikeSD sent the following letter to the Mayor of San Diego:


Dear Mayor Kevin Faulconer,


BikeSD would like to applaud your leadership and thank you for taking swift action to help flatten the curve here in SD. These are very challenging times for all, and everyday you are making decisions for the health of our residents, we thank you and want to offer our support.


We understand why parks, beaches and trails were closed. Trails are narrow and social distancing was difficult. People rely on walking and bicycling around their neighborhoods to stay active during the shelter-in-place order, yet typical space allocation for sidewalks and bicycles does not accommodate the minimum six feet of distance.


To support the safety of vulnerable road users, promote the health of our residents, and aid economic resiliency, BikeSD would like the City of San Diego to restrict vehicular traffic on selected streets to allow people to bike, walk and run safely on those streets. With fewer people driving to work, and others avoiding the cost of gasoline purchases, our streets are less crowded than normal, creating an opportunity to temporarily repurpose street space. By rapidly expanding our bicycle infrastructure we can provide/promote:

  1. A safe way for people to move about the city while maintaining proper distancing.
  2. An affordable means to access essential services for those most impacted by acute loss of income in the near to intermediate future
  3. Outdoor exercise to balance the physical and mental effects of sheltering in place.


New York City, Minneapolis, Denver, & Philadelphia, exemplify quick rollouts for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in adaptation to the COVID19 emergency (see here for larger discussion). We have the advantage of favorable geography, climate, and many existing streets with wide lanes with which to work towards a similar goal. With a decrease in vehicular traffic, traffic speeds are up, as noted in Los Angeles, and in San Diego, where the CHP reports freeway collisions now disproportionately require ambulance responses. At a time when our hospitals and emergency medicine responses are stretched thin, we can take proactive measures to reduce the likelihood of serious traffic injuries requiring those same scarce resources. New York experienced a 43% incident increase in bicycle collisions during the pandemic, while overall traffic collisions are down 33% relative to this time last year - motivating their emergency roll out of bike infrastructure.


Poorer neighborhoods are historically underserved by bicycle infrastructure, while often the most in need of affordable/free transportation in times of crisis. As our economy shifts for the uncertain, and MTS reduces its service due to lower ridership, bicycling becomes a more appealing economic imperative. For example, during the Great Recession, bicycle commuting in NYC shot up 26%. Conservative estimates of savings from foregoing a car and travelling by bike are 4,000-10,000 per year which is larger than the proposed $1,200 check being sent out to families. This savings is then spent in communities which will help stimulate local businesses.


Much of this could be accomplished by:

  1. Designating additional bicycle and pedestrian space for all SANDAG EAP projects (including Pac Hwy)
  2. Designating additional bicycle and pedestrian space for the entire network for the downtown mobility plan.
  3. The creation of a mechanism for communities to request opening additional streets to pedestrians/bicyclists so as to increase inclusivity of these measures.


We support the community, residents, and leadership to overcome the disruption that COVID19 is causing, and adapt to the changing needs. This is a critical moment where we can adopt a healthier, cleaner, and safer environment. We know you understand the joys of riding a bike and we want to support your team to create streets for people. We believe this will help SD residents adapt and build resiliency in our ever changing world.


3900 Cleveland Ave #205
San Diego CA 92103