SAN FRANCISCO — The parklets and to-go cocktails that have proliferated throughout the Bay Area and the state during the pandemic are here to stay, at least through the end of the year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday, calling the regulatory relief a lifeline for the beleaguered restaurant industry.
Speaking in front of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco’s Richmond district alongside Mayor London Breed, the governor said the state government would extend through the end of the year the regulatory relief that has allowed restaurants to expand service to outdoor seating and to sell liquor to-go with a food order. The decision, he said, is a way to help businesses recover from the pandemic while preserving parklets that have become a popular element of cities throughout the state.
“We don’t want to go back to normal,” he said. “Normal was never good enough.”
Newsom acknowledged that the extent to which parklets remain will be up to individual cities and mayors to decide, saying he was not naive to the barriers sometimes presented by local zoning or planning rules. But the announcement means the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control won’t be a barrier.
Breed said the parklets have brought new life into the city and she intends to push for regulations to keep them permanently, suggesting she’d bring the issue to voters directly if she encountered significant pushback from the Board of Supervisors.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re here to stay,” she said.
The announcement was also welcomed by Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association, who said the easing of to-go and outdoor seating rules during the pandemic was crucial for restaurants, particularly those that weren’t offering takeout before the pandemic.
“This has literally been a life preserver for our industry,” Condie said. “This is how they made their money.”
Even after June 15, when restaurants will be allowed to reopen without any capacity limits or social distancing requirements, he said the additional revenue sources will help owners dig out from what for some could be more than a year of back rent and debt.
Contributed by local news sources