Cleveland City Council Passes Ordinance to Allow Outdoor Dining, Drinking in Parking Lots, Streets, Other Rights-of-Way


  • Courtesy Kerry McCormack
As hoped, Cleveland City Council has passed an emergency ordinance that establishes a temporary program for bars and restaurants to extend outdoor seating into parking lots, streets and other public rights-of-way, including on-street parking areas and parklets.

The simple act of allowing bars and restaurants to spread out into adjacent space enables them to increase occupancy while still complying with social distancing guidelines.

As an emergency measure, the act should take effect and be in force immediately upon its passage and approval by the Mayor and some finalizing by City Planning. This ordinance is intended to be narrowly tailored to address the negative impacts created by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The idea of reclaiming our streets for non-vehicular use has been something I’ve been passionate about and banging the table about for a while, even before COVID,” Cleveland City Councilman Kerry McCormack told Scene. “We need to do everything we can to support our local small businesses and part of that will be closing down streets in commercial corridors with the understanding that in the process we need to be thoughtful about ADA and transit so that we’re not disadvantaging people.”

Bonnie Flinner, owner of Prosperity Social Club in Tremont, says that she would welcome the opportunity to expand her service area given the strict social distancing guidelines.

“Creative use of outdoor spaces for dining and customer seating, perhaps even spaces not previously considered, will definitely make a difference in jump-starting revenue for struggling restaurants and businesses upon reopening,” she says.


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