Chicago mayor proposes making city’s outdoor dining program permanent

Diving brief:

  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced an order Thursday to make the city’s outdoor dining program permanent. The ordinance is supported by the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, according to a statement from the town hall.
  • Chicago’s Expanded Outdoor Dining program was first created in 2020 in response to indoor dining restrictions during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been extended twice.
  • The proposed ordinance builds on that initial framework, establishing a street permit for outdoor restaurants issued by CDOT and valid from May 1 to October 31 each year.

Overview of the dive:

Chicago’s outdoor dining program, which was set to expire at the end of the year, has supported hundreds of restaurants. Fox 32 Chicago reported that as many as 700 different restaurants and bars received initial permits. The option provided a big enough lifeline for operators that 90% said they would continue to offer outdoor dining if their jurisdiction allowed it.

The ordinance aims to improve accessibility by allowing restaurants to operate in curb lanes where the adjacent sidewalk is not wide enough to accommodate a sidewalk. coffee. By extending the program, restaurants across the city can also continue to provide outdoor seating for diners concerned about COVID-19 transmission, though case counts have dropped significantly since January. Still, parts of the United States remain hotspots, and changes to testing programs make it difficult to accurately gauge the number of infections.

“The expanded outdoor dining program has been implemented during the pandemic to ensure the continued operations of our restaurants while keeping workers and customers safe. I am pleased that Chicago is now building on the success of this program and establishing long-term ways to support our hospitality and restaurant industries with welcoming dining spaces in all of our neighborhoods,” light foot said in a statement.

Chicago isn’t the only jurisdiction responding to carrier and consumer demand. A Los Angeles County lawmaker recently introduced a motion to extend permits for restaurants to offer outdoor dining, for example. Folsom, Calif., is considering an order to do the same. San Francisco’s “Shared Spaces” program was recently made permanent, with more than 1,000 restaurants adding outdoor dining spaces.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said last month that the city’s outdoor dining is here to stay and created a task force including the Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation and NYPD to consider stricter regulations and address grievances that have arisen throughout the past. two years.

Chicago’s proposed ordinance also takes safety issues into consideration and was created with input from restaurateurs and several city departments, including the Department of Transportation.

“CDOT has worked closely with BACP and other stakeholders to use lessons learned over the past two years to create an ongoing program that benefits residents, local businesses and neighborhoods,” said the CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi in a statement.

While many cities and towns are working to make outdoor dining permanent, outdoor dining has been canceled in other jurisdictions. Golden, Colorado, just halted outdoor dining in its Miner’s Alley neighborhood, for example, while Santa Monica, Calif., is considering ending some of its outdoor dining spaces.

About Walter Bartholomew

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