Raleigh passed an ordinance in August 2015 to allow outdoor seating at restaurants and bars downtown. At the December 5, 2017 Council meeting, Council Member Crowder indicated the outdoor dining program has been in place for about 18 months and she would like for Council to request the City Manager to prepare a staff report on the status of the outdoor dining permit program. She stated she would like for the report to include the following components:
- A list of applicants for permits since program inception with appropriate data
- A list of permits issued and establishments issued with appropriate data
- A listing of renewed permits by fiscal year and disposition of permits not renewed
- A reporting of citations issued against all permits in place.
- A reporting of complaints that have been turned over to staff about the outdoor dining in general.
- A city-wide reporting of all easement operating outdoor seating on the public right-of-way compared to the roster of permits issued as of December 1, 2017.
She moved that the report be prepared. Her motion was seconded by Council Member Stephenson and a roll call vote resulted in all members voting in the affirmative. The Mayor ruled the motion adopted on an 8-0 vote.
The report was prepared by staff and presented at the Feb 20, 2018 Council meeting. During the presentation, Councilor Crowder noted that the final sentence of “Suggested Amendments” on pages three and four of the staff memorandum in the agenda packet reads “The City Council may wish to consider removing this allowance.” She asked if the allowance was for meandering. APD Crane explained the City Code is not specific in that the pedestrian path must be a straight path on the block face. The Code does not explicitly prohibit a path that might meander down the block face (he illustrated a meandering path on one of the slides).
Councilor Crowder said that adding clarity in the Code would be helpful and would also help pedestrians who are impaired in some way. Councilor Branch opined it is very important to keep regulations for traversing sidewalks consistent throughout, especially from a public safety standpoint, so first responders will not have to meander around tables and chairs when responding to an emergency.
Councilor Crowder said she would like to move forward with stronger language about no meandering. Mr. Thompson, whose mother was visually impaired, agreed and said it makes no sense to allow meandering as it is an accident waiting to happen.
Councilor Crowder moved to direct staff to revise the ordinance on outdoor dining to reflect today’s discussion. Her motion was seconded by Councilor Thompson and carried unanimously. The Mayor ruled the motion adopted on a vote of 8-0.
Upon passage of the motion staff was directed to review the draft ordinance with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) and downtown businesses. The draft ordinance was brought back to Council in May.
At the May meeting Council Member Crowder moved approval as presented. Her motion was seconded by Council Member Branch and put to a vote which passed with all members voting in the affirmative except Council Member Thompson who was absent and excused. The Mayor ruled the motion adopted on a 7-0 vote.