Outdoor retail and dining areas could be here to stay, according to panelists at a recent CREW San Diego event, which analyzed the lasting effects of the pandemic. The conversation included Howard Blackson of AVRP Studio; David McCullough of McCullough Landscape Architecture; Christopher Bittner of OBR architecture; Alyssa Muto of the environmental policy and public space in the planning department at the City of San Diego; and Penny Maus of the Port of San Diego, who served as moderator.

"We've been shifting to multi-modal streets for quite a while," Blackson said at the event, adding that these spaces include roundabouts, bike lanes and parklets. "We are moving that way because the streets were designed in 1880s for a horse-and-cart to do full turn. We have excessively wide streets." Using these areas is not only beneficial during the pandemic, but it is a way to expand revenue out in the future, creating mixed-use streets. "Rules and regulations from 60's to today were car-focused," added Blackson. "Now it's people focused. City leadership is listening to new ideas. If you want to be engaged, now is a great time to be engaged."

Bittner also had experience creating multi-modal areas for restaurants. He struggled with community arguments. "When I designed the first parklet in front of Café Calabria, we heard all arguments: no one wants sit in the street; people will die; people can't park in front of the business," he said. However, the numbers quickly disproved the naysayers. "In first year of parklet, business went up 30% because more people in front of their business. Cars slow down because of something in parking space," he added.

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.