SAN FRANCISCO (KRON)– The deadline is fast approaching for restaurants in San Francisco to decide if they want to keep their parklets. Applications for new and existing parklets need to be submitted to the city by Jan, 15.

“We continue to suffer and this is an industry that took the hugest hit, had to close completely in some cases looking at an uneven recovery,” said Laurie Thomas with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Many have already applied, but some businesses chose to take down their outdoor areas. Starting April 1, a parklet could cost business owners as much as $6,500 in fees.

That doesn’t include the high cost of reconstructing an outdoor space to meet city guidelines. When COVID-19 was at its worst, outdoor dining put many at ease.

Nearly three years since the pandemic hit the Bay Area, and there’s still a benefit. “Visitor interest has really helped businesses stay afloat and has helped us employ for every parklet we have like two more people working,” Thomas said.

She says the added seating of Parklets has been one of the few positives in the last two weeks. When sales have gone down and food costs have gone up.

“I was just trying to nicely explain to a customer who reached out to me why I had to charge $19 for a sandwich,” Thomas said.

For business owners applying to keep or build a parklet, their fees will start on April 1. A fixed commercial parklet for a business making more than $2 million a year will cost $3,000 for the first parking space, and $1,500 for the second.

There will be a yearly license fee of $2,000 per space. The fees will cost half as much for owners making less than $2 million a year.

“Are those a little daunting, they are. Would I like to see maybe some relief discussed still on those fees? I would,” Thomas said.

Another thing to consider for owners of outdoor spaces is the changes that need to be made within 60 days after March 31.

Director of SF’s Shared Spaces Program Robin Abad Ocubillo says the new guidelines ensure emergency access and prohibit discrimination based on disability.

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“For example, wheelchairs are able to access the parklet facility. The parklet facility has the right clearances to allow paramedics and firefighters and other first responders to remove in and out of the parklet,” Ocubillo said.

Owners have until the end of March to take down their parklets if they choose not to comply with the new rules. Some may have already deconstructed the lumber and awnings, but the city is confident that most will be staying put.

“A third of pandemic Parklet operators have submitted applications, so that’s a good healthy number, and daily the number of applications increases,” Ocubillo said.

The city has a grant program offering as much as $2,500 to help owners with any reconstruction that needs to be done to get their parklet up to code.