SAN JOSE (KPIX) – New details have emerged about a horrific crash this weekend, when a driver plowed into a crowd of outdoor diners, in San Jose. KPIX has learned the restaurant had not applied for a permit from the city of San Jose’s outdoor dining program.
“This restaurant had not taken advantage of registering with the program,” says Nanci Klein, Director of the Economic Development Office.
“It wasn’t a situation where we had the opportunity to work with them directly,” Klein said.
San Jose’s Al Fresco Dining Program was designed to offer a lifeline to restaurants struggling under stay-at-home orders. The program allows restaurants to expand seating onto sidewalks, streets and parking lots.
San Jose Police say the driver lost control of his car, jumped the curb in the parking lot of the Grand Century Shopping Center, crossed the road and careened into a tent full of customers at Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant.
Investigators say eight people were injured in the crash, two of them critically.
“Dining outdoors is dangerous,” says Jeff Doan who is a frequent customer of Grand Century Shopping Center. He says physical barriers should be required to provide protection to diners.
“The best way is for the restaurants to put up some kind of barrier — high enough to block an accident like this,” Doan said.
Klein says the city provides barriers — often for free — to restaurants that expand their seating onto sidewalks or into the street. She says outdoor dining that utilizes private parking lots are generally given more leeway in the design of their setups.
City Councilman Johnny Khamis cautions against imposing more rules on businesses that are already struggling.
“There’s a certain amount of risk in doing outdoor dining. And unfortunately, we’ve learned of it. But the fact of the matter is if we don’t allow outdoor dining, these restaurants are going to go out of business,” Khamis said.
Police said the 69-year-old driver may have been “in medical distress prior to the collision.” No word yet on whether he is facing charges.