Outdoor dining parklets in San Francisco at risk of being removed

Restaurants around San Francisco are working to protect their outdoor dining parklets after concerns that red tape could force some to be torn down.

The platforms are popular and diners seem to like them. San Francisco leaders said they're committed to doing what they can to make sure they stick around.

For many restaurants, the outdoor dining parklets are a lifeline. But, since they first popped up, the list of requirements for the platforms has gone from seven pages to a 60-page document.

Restaurant owners said they want to make sure the city doesn't start fining businesses that are not yet in compliance with those new standards. They hope the city grants enough time, until spring of 2023, for restaurants to make necessary changes.

"We need to say, 'Guys this is complicated legislation, this has lots of ramifications, there are multiple rules and regulations now. Can we give the businesses more time to find the money and help educate and try to do what's right,'" said Laurie Thomas from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf said his district is "ground zero for restaurants and bars."

Peskin said restaurants have called his office to say they're getting notices of fines that aren't even included in the city's dining platform legislation. He said it all adds up to a headache for restaurant owners.

"Unfortunately the city bureaucracy has made that extremely difficult for restaurateurs who were still struggling, and still holding on. Frankly, it's been insulting, what they've had to go through. It's adding insult to injury," the supervisor said.

The city said restaurants will have until at least June of next year to make any modifications to the dining platforms.

At a pop-up shopping experience at City Hall, Mayor London Breed reaffirmed her commitment to getting rid of any red tape. She said she's working to make sure outdoor dining parklets stick around.

"We're here to work with the industry," said Breed. "My understanding is that about 10% of the parklets have some changes that need to be made. So we're going to do everything we can to work with them. And I think unfortunately the alarm has been set off and there's no reason for it."

The city said platforms that block fire access or prevent pedestrians from seeing traffic are among those that will need to be modified to make sure they're safe. After that city leaders said they need to work with restaurants to make sure small businesses can adapt to the new regulations and keep the platforms open for dining.