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People may be dining in those business-district parking spaces until next Spring -- if they brave the weather!

DAVID F. ASHTON - Patrons who have enjoyed food and beverages in Sellwood along S.E. 13th Avenue in the Portland Bottle Shops Parking Plaza now can keep doing so at least through March - it has a new permit to remain for the winter. Many business owners, who'd secured "Parking Plaza" permits from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to allow outdoor seating in parking spaces in front of their businesses, were worried about having to remove them at the end of October, when those permits were set to expire.

But on October 2, those merchants – mostly restaurants – got good news from PBOT's Hannah Schafer: "Now, businesses can apply for free winter permits to use street space for physical distancing – from November 1 through March 31, 2021. It's called the 'Winter Healthy Businesses Program' to enable businesses to safely stay open this winter."

The new permit allows businesses to set up tents in on-street parking spaces; and also provides guidance for the use of extension cords and heaters.

There are some conditions, however, including:

· Tents are prohibited within 50 feet of an intersection;

· Six feet of sidewalk space must be kept clear for pedestrians at all times;

· Businesses must adhere to Multnomah County COVID-19 safety guidance;

· Electric cords must be routed at least 10 feet above the sidewalk, or underneath ADA-compliant cord-protector ramps; and,

· Heaters must comply with requirements from the Fire Marshals Office.

DAVID F. ASHTON - In Westmoreland's business district, this large Parking Plaza has been providing outdoor service for the Limelight Restaurant & Lounge on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. "And, as winter weather comes, we're asking businesses to be ready to move or secure items in these areas -- for street snowplowing, for example," Schafer told THE BEE.

Because PBOT's winter permit isn't an "automatic extension" of the permits that were issued since June, shop owners must apply for the new permit – and some, like Travis Motter of the Portland Bottle Shop, immediately did so.

His business had one of the first "Parking Plaza" permits, issued years ago, as part of a PBOT pilot study, Motter pointed out to THE BEE. "During the summer, having this outdoor space has been fantastic, because we can't allow people inside to dine.

"Our retail wine business is good; but we couldn't have expanded a few years back without the restaurant area – that's why we really need the seats," explained Motter. "Without the outdoor pavilions, I don't know how businesses like ours will survive. "It's been a nice addition to the neighborhood, and it gives our neighborhood a sense of normalcy, which has been good for the spirit," he told THE BEE.

Wintertime 'Street Plazas' also possible

The Bureau hasn't ruled out re-permitting the "Street Plazas" on side streets, either, PBOT's Schafer said. "Like Parking Plazas, these permits don't have 'automatic extensions'; those who wish to pursue these permits would need to apply – and also, need to have plans ready to deal with winter weather."

It's not been announced whether the "Sellwood Square" volunteer coordinators have applied for such a permit for the locations off S.E. 13th, north of Tacoma Street that have enjoyed such activity this fall.


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