The limits on how many customers a store or restaurant can serve at one time due to COVID-19 restrictions has put outdoor dining and retail space at a premium. To help businesses out, the City of Roseburg is looking at two proposals that would provide extra outdoor accommodations by letting those businesses set up seating and shopping areas in nearby parking spaces.
One of the proposals, known as the Business Use of Right-of-Way program, would allow the businesses to set up shop right in the street. It is scheduled to be discussed at Monday’s City Council meeting.
A second plan also in the works, known as the parklet program, calls for the businesses to build platforms for patrons to dine or shop in the street. If enacted that program would only be available to businesses located in a small section of downtown Roseburg.
Stuart Cowie, Roseburg Community Development Director, said the right-of-Way program has been successfully implemented in cities in Oregon and throughout the country as a way to expand seating for businesses struggling with COVID-19 restrictions.
“In a nutshell, the new program would provide assistance by making space available inside designated parking spaces located in public right-of-way for businesses to more effectively provide social distancing measures for their customers,” Cowie said.
The program allows businesses to place chairs, tables, umbrellas and the like in the parking spaces in front of their businesses. The space must be accessed via the sidewalk and not the street, and the business owner must delineate the area of space being used by installing a barricade at least 3 feet tall. The barricade can be made of wood, metal, planter pots, rope, or other types of materials.
The barricades, as well as all the furniture inside them can be left outside overnight. Seats can be placed on the sidewalk as long as there is a 5-foot wide clear path on the sidewalk for pedestrians.
The added seating would not be allowed on main arterial streets or highways. No fees will be charged for this program, which if approved is schedule to run through Sept. 30.
The parklet program would allow downtown businesses to build a temporary platform for seating in the street parking lane directly next to their business. With limited seating available, this will allow these businesses to provide additional outdoor seating for their customers.
The initial program would be limited to a small area in downtown Roseburg, running about four blocks from Southeast Douglas to Lane avenues and between Main and Jackson streets.
These “parklets” will be allowed on a first-come, first-served basis as long as the businesses meet certain basic requirements. Those include:
- Each parklet can only take up one parking spot in front of a business.
- There will be a maximum of five parklets in the designated downtown area at any one time.
- Only one parklet will be allowed on each side of a street, per block.
- Parklets can’t be placed within 10 feet of a fire hydrant and cannot cover any manholes, utility access valves and the like.
- Parklets must be placed in such a way that maintains a path for pedestrians on the sidewalk.
The parklets also have design requirements, including that the platforms not extend more than 6 feet into the street from the curb and that they blend in with the design and architecture of the neighborhood.
Additionally, the parklets cannot be bigger than a traditional parking space, which is 7 feet by 18 feet, and they must have some kind of barrier along the street and adjacent parking spaces. The barrier needs to be 3 ½ feet tall.
Finally, the parklets should incorporate some kind of vegetation element, such as hanging flower baskets or planter boxes. Parklets can have roofs and canopies if a business owner wants them.
The parklets will be owned and maintained by the business owner. Each owner will be charged a $40 application fee, a $30 Right-of-Way permit fee and a monthly $20 fee for the parking space.
The parklet program has been discussed among city officials since last fall, but its implementation has been delayed due to COVID-19, Cowie said.
“Most restaurants were struggling just to keep their doors open, let alone build a parklet to put in front of their business,” he said. “We are currently in the midst of designing a program that will meet city requirements and provide enough flexibility for restaurant owners to choose to construct a parklet. We’ll see if we can get to that point.”