The city of Dallas will consider a resolution on Wednesday that would allow bars and restaurants to cover their patio areas without having to add parking spaces, as is currently required.
It is an effort, two city council members said, to help a struggling industry weather COVID-19 restrictions and the colder months ahead.
“It is cooling off, people need to be outside. We’ve all heard that being outside is healthier,” said David Blewett, Dallas City Council member for District 14. “The idea that we could cover a patio, not have it affect the parking restrictions and allow our businesses to have more customers.”
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As blasts of cooler weather move into Dallas and no sign of COVID-19 letting up, there’s another potential lifeline coming for restaurants and bars in the city -- specifically those with uncovered patios, like Rapscallion in Lowest Greenville.
“I think it’s a much-needed change even not discussing COVID, but since we’re talking about COVID, yeah I’m all for it,” owner Brooks Anderson said.
Council members Blewett and Chad West said under current regulations, if a business wants to cover its outdoor patio area, the owner would have to provide the same number of parking spaces as the interior of the building would require.
“A lot of these establishments have been around for years and years and have never been able to meet that parking requirement, which is why they have uncovered patios,” West said.
Their resolution would allow businesses to enclose patios without having to add more parking spaces for their business.
Anderson, who owns several restaurants and bars in the city, said he had not previously enclosed his patios because of the limited number of parking spaces available and because of the cost of enclosing a patio.
Blewett said patios would not be allowed to expand into required parking spaces or right of ways.
Businesses will have to shutdown by midnight and not operate until after 7 a.m.
"Temporary covered unenclosed outdoor patio areas must comply with building codes and fire codes," according to the resolution.
Businesses would be inspected and complaints would go through code enforcement to ensure the patios are safe for customers, Blewett said.
Blewett estimated as many as 100 businesses could benefit from this temporary resolution that could run until the end of April.
“This is temporary,” West said. “This is a COVID recovery item.”
Anderson has traveled to other cities and countries and encouraged Dallas to seek more ways to expand outdoor seating and less parking.
“I think the world is slowly moving away from needing to park as much as we parked back in the 80s and 90s,” he said.
The Dallas City Council will also seek to expand the parklet program on Wednesday.
Parklets are public seating spaces that utilize street-side parking, including benches and tables on wood decks.
The parklets aim to provide extra space for businesses to operate while practicing social distancing during safety procedures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The city will consider whether to use $150,000 of CARES Act funds to beef up the program, West said.
“Help small businesses that can’t afford to build a parklet be able to put out some tables or put out some umbrellas or build that structure to protect people who are dinging there,” West said.
The Dallas City Council meets Wednesday at 9 a.m.