Maintaining Outdoor Business Operations – Guidance from State Fire Marshall

The following information was shared with the Mission Hills BID from the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department. This guidance is applicable to businesses that have utilized outdoor spaces including the Public Right of Way or Parking spaces, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maintaining Outdoor Business Operations – Guidance from State Fire Marshall

On December 15, the City of San Diego received guidance from the State Fire Marshal reaffirming the statewide fire prevention regulations relating to outdoor dining. Our records indicate that you may have interest in permitting, rules, regulations, and enforcement of temporary outdoor business operations including the use of heater(s), tent(s), deck(s) and/or structure(s) outside of a business to facilitate safely doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning February 1, Deputy Fire Marshals will be visiting all businesses using tents, awnings and temporary structures for outside dining to provide informational handouts (linked below). 

Multiple no- and/or low-cost options may be available to support efforts to comply with regulation while maintaining outdoor COVID-19-safe business operations when allowed by the State of California. City Economic Development Department staff are available to support businesses navigating these options as they relate to each business’s specific location and operations. The City will be providing an educational webinar next Tuesday, January 26, from 2:00 to 3:30PM. To attend, please RSVP here.

Fire Safety

Please see the below links for important information regarding the use of heaters, and COVID19 indoor/outdoor definitions for the use of tents and temporary structures. A business may be required to obtain a permit by completing and submitting this permit application from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department if they currently have, or propose to install, a tent or temporary structure covering more than 400 square feet. Attachments include:

Decks, Platforms, and Other Temporary Outdoor Business Operations

The following options are available to help dining and retail outlets open or expand operations outdoors so they can cost-effectively maintain safety, health and distancing protocols.

  • No-construction Option: Most previously issued Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permits allow for business operations to exist in the public right-of-way during regular business hours. 
  • Simple Deck/Platform: The City Engineer recently issued pre-approved specifications that may be used with no additional architectural or engineering services to apply for a new Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit or amend an existing one.     
  • Custom Deck/Platform: Submitted permit drawings must be signed and stamped by a responsible design professional such as a registered Civil or Structural Engineer licensed in the State of California.

For questions, please feel free to reach out to the City’s Economic Development Department. Additional information about available options is of course available at the City’s Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permits web page.