City could extend pandemic-support for local businesses into 2022 | ALXnow

At a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 9, the Planning Commission is scheduled to review a proposal to extend certain boons to local businesses set up during the pandemic into next year with the possibility of some changes being made permanent.

The list includes an array of changes aimed at making life a little easier for businesses that took a hit during the pandemic. The changes are currently scheduled to expire on January 1, 2022, but staff is looking to extend that to April next year.

According to a staff report, the changes include:

  • Allowing all restaurants to provide delivery service and pick-up service. Delivery vehicles and customer pick-ups may use on-street parking subject to posted parking requirements.
  • Hours-of-operation regulations have been suspended for restaurants, convenience stores, catering operations and automobile service stations (gasoline stations).
  • Allowing restaurants and retail establishments to vend on adjacent sidewalks or parking lots.
  • Suspension of local restrictions on alcohol sales, including off-premises alcohol sales and delivery restrictions.
  • In addition to the current program, which allows participants in the King Street Outdoor Dining program to have outdoor dining on sidewalks under certain guidelines, participants will also be permitted to set up outdoor dining in parking spaces outside of their businesses.
  • In all other areas of the City, outdoor dining is permitted on restaurant property and in the public right-of-way (sidewalks, parking spaces, parking lots) where it will not detrimentally impact adjacent uses.
  • Restaurant operators may use off-street spaces located on the same property for outdoor dining where it will not detrimentally impact adjacent uses.
  • Retail businesses may request the use of sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and privately-owned parking lots and spaces to display their products and conduct sales, where it will not detrimentally impact adjacent uses.
  • Health and fitness business operators may use sidewalks, privately-owned parking lots and spaces and on-street parking spaces to offer classes and provide access to fitness equipment, where it will not detrimentally impact adjacent uses.

The staff report noted that many of the changes to local business regulation have proved popular. Some changes, converting a section of King Street to pedestrian-only, could become permanent.

“City staff has been reviewing the business recovery program, with the assistance of affected businesses and members of the public, with the intent to bring forward in October the recommended elements of a permanent program,” the staff report said. “Many elements have proven popular with the public, have provided welcome vitality and enjoyment, and have benefited our small businesses.”

The report said staff will be meeting with the Planning Commission and City Council in October to further review how some regulations could be improved more permanently. The report noted that an online poll for feedback on the relaxed ordinances has overwhelmingly positive feedback.