To assist local downtown businesses during the COVID-19 crisis a plan was developed to allow the temporary expansion of outdoor seating into the public right-of-way. City Council approved the Outdoor Seating Temporary License program in June 2020. This program allowed businesses to extend dining along sidewalks, into on-street parking spaces, public plazas as well as into streets. The Outdoor Seating Temporary License program will last until all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted by the State plus an additional 30-day grace period, at no cost to the applicant.
During the March 2nd City Council meeting, Mayor Baldwin asked staff to look into making the expansion of outdoor seating into the public right-of-way permanent.
Factors being considered by staff include the following:
– Are there places where permanent expansions would not be allowed due to safety concerns, undue burden on the surrounding area, or other reasons?
– Would the process exist for only certain types of businesses (i.e. bar/restaurant vs retail)
– How should the wishes of neighboring businesses and property owners be considered?
– How should the overall dimensions of the permanent expansion area be restricted?
– How would a permanent expansion impact special event road closures and event infrastructure?
– Will the designated spaces be used as public spaces, for private use only, or a hybrid model?
– What will be the cost to business owners and the City?
The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is leading a study with an independent consultant to better understand what downtown stakeholders want and need. That study includes examining permanent expanded outdoor seating and the results are expected in early June.