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Chris Aitken

By Chris Aitken

The San Clemente Downtown Business Association is pleased to announce, and thankful to the city, that it is expected that outdoor dining will be returning this May!

Outdoor dining, a program developed in partnership with the city by the SCDBA, was a resounding success from its inception in the summer of 2020 to the fall of 2021. The downtown businesses recognized its boost in commerce in the downtown area not only for restaurants, but retail and all business sectors. 

Sales-tax revenues exceeded city expectations, demonstrating its boost in business to our downtown community. The restaurant sector, through the lease of the outdoor dining spaces, provided direct funding to extend, for several months, another very popular and successful program—namely, the trolley in San Clemente.

The trolley is also set to return to San Clemente this spring.

San Clemente residents overwhelmingly recognized that the downtown was given a “European” ambiance and vibrancy. San Clemente, with 281 days of average sunshine a year, was said to be an ideal location for outdoor dining. 

Residents also mentioned the program’s other benefits, such as added health and safety due to being outdoors, as well as ease of accessibility for strollers and pets.

Last week, on March 15, the City Council approved the return of outdoor dining to San Clemente for the calendar years of 2022 and 2023. The San Clemente Planning Commission has developed codes and standards for the outdoor decks, due to “lessons learned” when the decks were brought out rapidly for emergency purposes to save the restaurant sector. 

As there is a fee for leasing public space, the expectation is that only a certain number of restaurants will apply, thereby balancing the impact on parking in the downtown area, which is lessened by the use of the trolley.

Do you love outdoor dining in the downtown area? If so, please feel free to share this with us at, and thank your councilmembers for voting to bring back outdoor dining to San Clemente.

On behalf of the San Clemente Downtown Business Association, we continue to wish you and your families the very best for 2022. San Clemente, we continue to ask for you to “shop and dine local” and look forward to seeing you downtown!

Chris Aitken is the Chairman of the Board of the San Clemente Downtown Business Association. Chris is also involved with two businesses in the downtown area, as the co-owner of H.H. Cotton’s restaurant and a partner of the personal injury law firm Aitken Aitken Cohn.

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