Newberg to extend its street seat pilot program
The city of Newberg is poised to extend its street seat pilot program for an additional two years to August 2021.
The program was originally created in 2015 and was intended to expire in summer 2017. However, the Newberg City Council at the time decided to extend the program for an initial two years.
So far, just one street seat has been built adjacent to Ruddick/Wood Restaurant on First and Edwards streets. According to city documents, staff believes this project has been successful and is requesting a second, two-year extension.
Street seats are temporary platforms placed in an on-street parking space. The platform is the same height as the curb and extends the sidewalk space in order to add additional outdoor seating for a business. The street seats are owned and maintained by the adjacent private business and require a permit from the city.
Community Development Director Doug Rux said the program came about when the city was working on its downtown development plan to try and bring in business and create activity in the street and sidewalk areas of downtown. Because of restrictions from the Oregon Department of Transportation, some thoroughfares like First Street did not qualify for the program.
"In the spring and summer and early fall before the rain sets in for people to be outside in the fresh air," Rux said is the benefit of the program.
After looking at work being done in Portland, Milwaukee and cities around the country, Newberg decided to move forward with their own project.
The pilot program comes with a set of standards and rules, were largely based on the city of Milwaukie's street seat program. Ruddick/Wood Restaurant had an application for a street seat approved, constructed the street seat and has successfully used it for the past three years.
Rux said there was interest from one other business after Ruddick/Wood, but that company decided not to move forward with the plan. He added that there is a downside, as these street seats do displace parking. And there needs to be assurances that the designs don't cause visual impediments for cars or pedestrians.
"The hope would be in the future is we get more of these street seats to more businesses so they don't have to do all their business indoors," Rux said.
Following this process, staff decided some modifications to the guidelines were needed. Staff decided that the structure needed to be reviewed by a structural engineer to verify that the rails could withstand a 200-pound horizontal force. The building code does not apply to structures in the right-of-way, so there is no existing code that could be used to check the structural strength and each street seat will need to be evaluated independently.
Staff also learned that in order to provide adequate vision clearance the street seat needed to be at least one parking space away from the entrance to an alley, and that if the structure was going to be over three feet tall it needed to retain visibility through the street seat and not create a solid wall.
Rux said once these projects and others are completed, staff will likely come back before the council to either extend the program again or make it a permanent one.
While staff is recommending extending the program, the council's other options would be to turn the program into a permanent one or to let it expire all together. Staff members did not recommend letting it expire, but agreed it may be too early to adopt the street seat program as permanent. Since the city has several other projects going on, such as a vertical housing development zone program and trying to secure a group to redevelop the vacant Butler Property across from city hall, city staff would rather wait until sometime in the future to adopt a permanent program.
"It's still in its infancy," Rux said.
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