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Bend considers parking lots, sidewalks and street closures for outdoor seating

'It's worth giving up some parking spots, so we can get back into the swing of normalcy'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ )-- As restaurants try to find a way to serve as many customers as possible while keeping tables six feet apart, the city of Bend is considering allowing them to move tables outside. And that means some adjustments the city plays a role in.

The Bend City Council will be asked to decide at their meeting next Wednesday whether businesses with private parking lots can use them for outdoor seating. Some sidewalks are also being considered for cafe style seating.

The city's Chief Operations Officer Jon Skidmore said Friday they are considering closing down certain streets to vehicular traffic like Wall or Bond street, or even alley ways, but this poses a greater risk for navigating traffic during emergencies. He says it's going to require work from both the business owners and the council to find the right balance.

"There's a little bit of a tradeoff here that the businesses and the council are going to have to consider," Skidmore said. "Are the parking needs going to outweigh the other needs? I'm hoping to throw some tool to the businesses that would allow them to operate."

Skidmore said they'll have to also decide the duration of how long parking lots or sidewalks will be used for outdoor seating. He said it'll probably only be permitted for the summertime. If streets are shut down, they also have to agree on a time of day that is feasible.

Shoppers in the downtown area shared their opinions on the potential change.

Van Schoessler said, "I welcome outdoor seating options, I'm all for it, if people can get together safely and be out, and pick up on that energy. I think it'll be a challenge with parking -- it'll have to be a blend of some parking, but also getting some seating outdoors. I think that would be awesome." 

Steven Phillipe said, "I think that would be fantastic, I mean, the more people that are out and about, kind of that better feel when you're out. Less cars is always fine with me, we're fine parking somewhere else. We walked from Drake Park."

"Weather is getting nice, so it'll be great to get outside," added Emily Phillipe, Steven's wife. 

Courtney Parker said, "It's really important, and it's worth giving up some parking spots, so we can get back into the swing of normalcy."

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is allowing alcohol licensees greater flexibility in creating more usable customer space and will be allowed to expand onto sidewalks, parking lots or streets, with the permission of the property owner or local government.


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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

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