August 31, 2005
Restaurant owners in downtown Hood River will soon need a permit to place bistro tables along the sidewalk.
Last week, the City Council approved a $50 annual charge for each table. The elected body wanted to avoid liability in the new trend for outdoor seating. Since the sidewalk belongs to the city, officials felt the activity needed to be regulated to prevent a pedestrian accident.
“If we don’t have some sort of control over this, then we start getting a lot of stuff out there and it gets to be a hazard,” said Bob Francis, city manager.
Although all benches and planters along the downtown corridor now also require a permit, there is no fee attached. The council felt these articles were stationary and posed no hazard. Officials reasoned that, since outdoor tables were movable and helped the business generate a profit, it was fair to levy a monitoring charge.
Council members also wanted to ensure that only quality and aesthetically pleasing tables and chairs were set up along the historic downtown corridor.
However, Francis said the city placement permit does not supersede Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) rules, which must still be followed. If OLCC has not granted a pub permission to serve alcohol outdoors, Francis said that prohibition is still in place.
The new permit is expected to go into effect by October and includes the following guidelines for outdoor furniture:
* Seating can only be set up next to the eatery wall.
* Thirty-six inches of cleared space must be left open to pedestrians along the sidewalk. Business owners are responsible to keep that space free of all obstacles, including strollers, bikes and dogs.
* Placement of tables and chairs must not interfere with curb ramps, access to buildings, driveways or fire accesses.
* A permit holder must name the city as an additional insured on the business policy.
* Bus stations, serving trays and tableware must be kept inside the premises.
* Restaurant owners are responsible to keep the area clean and litter-free.
* Seating equipment must be sturdy, stable and of sufficient weight to avoid being tipped or blown over by the wind.
Violators of a permit will be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $500 for each problem thereafter.