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Businesses request more innovative seating options with warm weather on forecast

COURTESY PHOTO: MARK HOGAN, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS - A parklet in San Francisco shows a potential outdoor dining solution that could be brought to Gresham. Downtown Gresham businesses are looking to turn Main Avenue "green" as the community embraces outdoor dining with warm weather on the horizon and continued COVID restrictions.

Following proposals from last summer that were put on the backburner due to shifts in the pandemic and the Oregon wildfires, the ask is to allow more flexibility and support from the city when it comes to outdoor seating for restaurants.

The ideas, which are supported by the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, paint a new vision for the city — sidewalks extended with greenery and seating, large canopies in parking lots, and roadways closed during certain days to transform them into public plazas.

During a meeting Tuesday morning, March 16, Gresham City Council voiced support for the proposal to promote outdoor seating. And there was a general push to have this be long-term changes that extend past the pandemic.

"I really enjoy the experience of outdoor dining," said Council President Eddy Morales. "It adds a sense of community and public safety because people are out and visible."

City staff are working on a pilot program to allow increased outdoor seating in three parts of Gresham — Historic Downtown, Civic Neighborhood, and Downtown Rockwood. The hope is to work out any kinks in the system in the densest business sectors before allowing widespread implementation.

"We don't want to leave any of our businesses out," said Councilor Sue Piazza.

One of the popular outdoor seating options businesses could use are "parklets,' — sidewalk extensions that add tables and other amenities into the bike lanes. For businesses in strip mall settings, the same can be done by converting parking spaces.

Regardless of what is used, council spoke about balancing new seating with active transportation, parking, and Americans with Disabilities accessibility.


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