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Double Barrel Fitness
Double Barrel started operating outside soon after new countywide restrictions were announced halting all indoor operations of gyms. Photo by Tigist Layne
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San Marcos businesses take advantage of outdoor expansion measures

SAN MARCOS — More than 30 businesses in San Marcos have expanded their operations outdoors thanks to a city ordinance that temporarily allows restaurants, retail stores and other activities to expand to parking lots and sidewalk patios.

The City of San Marcos was the second in North County to implement these measures back in May, the first being the City of Escondido, but that was before businesses were forced to go outside to operate.

These regulations include establishing temporary outdoor and drive-through pickup areas, allowing to-go and on-site outdoor consumption of alcohol, allowing temporary banner signs and permitting outdoor group assemblies in parking lots.

After San Diego County officials ordered the shutdown of indoor operations last month for a number of businesses, including restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and museums, many local businesses have started operating outside.

Tess Sangster, the economic development director for the City of San Marcos, told The Coast News that 35 businesses have received permits for outdoor expansion.

“The measures will remain as long as needed. When the urgency is declared over, then we’ll start rolling things back, but we’re not going to start rolling things back until businesses tell us they’re ready for us to do that,” Sangster said. “It’s such a hard time for businesses right now, so everyone … is trying to do what they can to support our businesses because the last thing they need is more regulations.”

She added that businesses have so far been able to expand outdoors without the need for any road or lane closures.

Some of these businesses include Umami Sushi in North City, Emily’s Nails & Spa, JR’s Barber Shop, Double Barrel Fitness, CycleBar and more.

“I hear from people daily of businesses that are struggling and who are so close to losing their business,” Sangster said. “It’s such a sad time, and if it wasn’t for this, many businesses wouldn’t be able to operate at all.”

Businesses who apply for temporary outdoor business permits on the City of San Marcos website will be asked a few questions and to submit a basic site plan of how they would like to use their outdoor spaces. The permit process is free and typically takes about two business days to be approved.