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City’s Outdoor Seating Pilot Program Resumes March 15

Susan Post Susan Post City’s Outdoor Seating Pilot Program Resumes March 15Barrio's patio in Fifth by Northwest - Photo by Susan Post
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With warmer weather (hopefully) around the corner, the City of Columbus announced its Outdoor Seating Pilot Program will resume on Monday, March 15.

Making its initial run last summer and fall, the program allows restaurants to use the right of way for temporary, on-street dining areas or their parking lots to expand seating.

“The pilot program successfully allowed patrons to support local restaurants, with more socially distanced outdoor seating in place to help prevent COVID-19 transmission,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Resuming the program as warm weather approaches will help these businesses and their employees continue to rebound from the pandemic’s impact.”

In 2020, 25 restaurants took part in the program which ran from August 31 – November 30, with seven utilizing permits for on-street dining and 18 expanding seating in their parking lots.

The stipulations remain the same for the program in 2021.

Conditions for use of the right of way and sidewalk include:

  • The pilot program is applicable to restaurants on city streets with speed limits of 30 mph or less.
  • All locations must be in an existing parking lane and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • “Edge buffers,” or barriers, are required to maintain a safe distance between vehicular traffic and patrons. In 2021, the city will fund and place the barriers.
  • Dining areas cannot block vehicle or pedestrian traffic, or impede ADA access. 
  • All entities are required to return the public property to its original condition upon conclusion of the pilot or use.

Conditions for expansion on private property or into parking lots include:

  • No more than 25% of required parking spaces may be used.
  • Accessible parking spaces are not to be obstructed, or approved alternative spaces of the same dimensions must be provided elsewhere on the parcel.
  • Tents are allowed with 75% of tent sides remaining open when in use or demonstrate 12 air exchanges per hour to ensure clean air.
  • Temporary dining area does not increase the current establishment maximum capacity.

Restaurants and bars must fill out and submit an application with a site plan that shows the proposed layout of the outdoor dining area. The city will waive the permit fee this year.

“The Right-of-Way Permits Office in the Department of Public Service is prepared again to quickly process restaurants’ applications for on-street dining so they are able to safely seat more customers as soon as possible,” said Director Jennifer L. Gallagher.

All applications and/or questions for expansion into the right of way or sidewalks can be submitted online at https://portal.columbus.gov/permits. All applications and/or questions to expand patios into parking lots or on private property shall submit a summary email to [email protected] for an initial review.

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