Shop the Block! initiative, June 4 agenda

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Leslie Pool
Posts: 215
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Shop the Block! initiative, June 4 agenda

Post by Leslie Pool »


I am placing an item on our June 4 agenda addendum that I hope will bring relief to our small businesses – namely restaurants, bars, and retail – by allowing them use of their parking lots, portions of the sidewalk, and more of the public right-of-way. This is intended to increase their business capacity and maintain social distancing measures.

For many small businesses, a partial reopening is not financially feasible, whether it’s because the retail or restaurant space itself is too small to keep customers safe, or customers themselves are demanding greater space to safely dine or shop.

As a result, several cities across the country are moving to relax regulations and allow for business operation in innovative spaces, such as in parking lots, or on public right-of-way using temporary permitting and licensing. These moves will prove to be a health benefit, as experts recently reported to The New York Times that the public is safer outdoors than indoors, which as a closed environment may pose a greater risk of infection.

My office, and those of the co-sponsors, has been working with our staff to craft the best path forward for this initiative. The most efficient and effective method is likely to be amendments to our Special Events ordinance to allow for an expedited temporary permitting program. Such a program could be used to allow a restaurant to serve outdoors with more space between tables, or shops to allow browsing with plenty of space between customers. Additional temporary permitting to allow a restaurants and shops close their street to vehicular traffic for “shop the block” events, will be a valuable part of this program.

Open air dining and shopping should have an immediate positive benefit for our small businesses by attracting more business activity under safer conditions. It will also build on local and national momentum toward more pedestrian-friendly conditions on our public right-of-way, dovetailing with the public benefits our city is already seeing from CM Ellis’ Healthy Streets initiative.

My co-sponsors and I are working with staff to finalize the proposed changes to the ordinance and the item will be posted this coming Friday, May 29. I look forward to our discussion of this item.


Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7