San Diego city parks now available for gyms, churches, as Mayor Faulconer signs executive order

Jayson Chabrow works out at San Diego County's Waterfront Park on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 in San Diego.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The city now joins San Diego County’s move to open up parks to businesses needing to operate outside


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed an executive order Tuesday that allows gyms and churches to use city parks for in-person activities.

The mayor’s order temporarily waives permitting fees for fitness studios and religious institutions that wish to operate outside in one of the 340 city parks. The directive, which goes into effect Aug. 24, defers the fees for 60 days. That time period may be extended in a later council vote.

“There is no city better than San Diego to take advantage of the fact that COVID-19 has a harder time spreading outdoors,” Faulconer said in a statement. “Using parks as part of our pandemic relief response will help the mental health and physical health of thousands of San Diegans. This executive order lets San Diegans workout and worship in parks across our city. Starting Monday you can join a small group to pray, do Pilates, or part ways with your Quarantine 15 weight gain, all in a healthy outdoor environment.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer made the announcement at Mira Mesa Community Park.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer made the announcement at Mira Mesa Community Park.
(Courtesy of City of San Diego)

Allowing fitness facilities to unpack at local parks is particularly useful to gyms in urban areas of San Diego, as these businesses often have no parking or outdoor space in which to expand.

The executive order follows a move already made by San Diego County earlier this month to allow gyms and churches to hold services and classes at county parks, also waiving permitting fees.

As of Friday, permits had been granted to GC2 Church and Yoga Jai Ma to use 4S Ranch Community Park, while religious group Love of Christ Fellowship received a permit to operate at Los Penasquitos Canyon County Preserve.

Four other churches, five fitness facilities, one performing arts workshop and one dance class also have applied to the county for permits.

The City of Poway also beat San Diego to the punch, introducing the park concept back in July.

Organizations that want to take advantage of the mayor’s new order have a few rules to follow. Businesses must display their San Diego County Safe Reopening Plan, hold insurance naming the City of San Diego as an additional insured, and have a city business tax certificate prior to Aug. 1, 2020. New permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for each park depending on the local demand and total space available.