SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — San Jose leaders unanimously voted Tuesday to continue the City’s Al Fresco outdoor dining program.

The extension of the program allows struggling local businesses to continue to utilize closure of city streets, such as San Pedro Square, to be used by diners and shoppers through June 30, 2022.

Parking lots and private property utilized under the program for similar outdoor uses will continue through December 2022.

The city says in both cases longer closures will be considered at those times.

“San Jose Al fresco was a critical lifeline for many of our small businesses during the pandemic,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo.

“San José restaurateurs and merchants are the backbone of our community and we must continue to help them on the road to economic recovery–while maintaining safe spaces for residents to socialize outdoors.”

The program was first proposed by Mayor Liccardo and Councilmember Dev Davis in May 2020 to offer relief to struggling businesses amid the pandemic.

The extension also builds on the City’s recent allocation of $150,000 of American Rescue Plan funds to cover traffic safety barrier equipment rentals and lost meter revenue for existing Al Fresco parklets.

Earlier this year the City approved $700,000 in the 2021-2022 operating budget — which covered the cost for businesses to transition to more permanent parklet installations.

According to a city memo, 131 businesses have signed up for the program, 35 businesses have received a permit for business operations in a Parklet, on public sidewalk or both, and 12 businesses have received a permit to operate in a street temporarily closed to vehicle traffic. 

Long-term solutions

The City is also working with the Knight Foundation to assist with the transition to a longer-term presence of the Al Fresco program.

A grant agreement for $200,000 would help produce a template design for parklets to ease the permitting process — the grant would cover the following costs: staff facilitation, technical expert consultant review of the designs, and translation services.

Businesses who want to sign up for an Al Fresco parklet — contact the City’s economic development staff at covid19sjbusiness@sanjoseca.gov.