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Thread: Outdoor dining in the street

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    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Outdoor dining in the street

    Found out about this in another thread, thought I'd start a new one it. I'm assuming I'm the only here who freaks out about the photo on the left? I would just go ahead and turn in my P.E. license if I was the traffic engineer there.



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    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Hah that picture on the left is scary...

    Most of the pictures I've seen of parking/dining spaces had something of a buffer between the traffic and the seating (e.g., fence of some sorts with potted plants).
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Found out about this in another thread, thought I'd start a new one it. I'm assuming I'm the only here who freaks out about the photo on the left? I would just go ahead and turn in my P.E. license if I was the traffic engineer there.
    Yikes. I'm not a PE but I don't like that at all. I'm sure it serves as a good traffic calming method, but not an appropriate one. I agree there needs to be some buffer between the seating and the drive aisle, even if it's just an elevated platform (curbing).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I'm no engineer either but that photo on the left does look a bit risky.

    Our local downtown has quite a few restaurants, or "bistros" as they call them for licensing purposes that allow outdoor seating and the ones that haven been more consistently busy in the long term or have more limited outdoor space have been able to basically rent a few parking spaces long term and use that for seating. But they are required to build a raised platform to act as the buffer.

    Here's a link to a photo that shows what has been done here: http://maps.google.com/?ll=42.54668,...03.65,,0,17.65
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  5. #5
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Thanks for the image! If I'm to assume correctly that your city does not allow alcohol consumption in the public right-of-way, would this be an exception to that and allow for alcohol consumption within the outdoor dining area? Curious.

    Also, this road appears to be a typical crowned street with drainage going to the curb. There doesn't seem to be a way to pass the drainage flows along the curb. Does water pool on one end during a storm or nuisance drainage? I realize it may be moot in some ways as the overlays have brought the pavement close to top of curb in some areas.

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    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Thanks for the image! If I'm to assume correctly that your city does not allow alcohol consumption in the public right-of-way, would this be an exception to that and allow for alcohol consumption within the outdoor dining area? Curious.

    I'm curious on that as well. I know here in CA, you can usually allow liquor in outdoor seating areas if the area is enclosed (i.e., with fencing or railing). Not sure if that also would apply to an outdoor seating area in the public ROW - enclosed or not.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    I'm curious on that as well. I know here in CA, you can usually allow liquor in outdoor seating areas if the area is enclosed (i.e., with fencing or railing). Not sure if that also would apply to an outdoor seating area in the public ROW - enclosed or not.
    Probably run contrary to many municipalities ordinances, unless your in Davis, CA (they have an open container allowed law )
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Through our permit for outdoor dining in right-of-way, we allow alcohol consumption provided the outdoor dining area is enclosed with a metal railing. But the metal railing is still attached to the building. To allow the serving of alcohol in a freestanding enclosure not attached to the building as WSU MUP Student's photo shows, I think would be very awkward.

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    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Through our permit for outdoor dining in right-of-way, we allow alcohol consumption provided the outdoor dining area is enclosed with a metal railing. But the metal railing is still attached to the building. To allow the serving of alcohol in a freestanding enclosure not attached to the building as WSU MUP Student's photo shows, I think would be very awkward.

    Yeah in thinking about this... would the waiter/waitress be subject to an open container violation/ticket during the trip from the restaurant to the sidewalk-separated dining area?
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Thanks for the image! If I'm to assume correctly that your city does not allow alcohol consumption in the public right-of-way, would this be an exception to that and allow for alcohol consumption within the outdoor dining area? Curious.
    If I recall correctly, they do allow liquor sales on the type of seating shown in the link that I posted provided that the establishment has an additional "bistro" license and not just a liquor license. But I could be wrong as I like to do my drinking inside away from prying eyes and cannot remember for certain. This particular town has some notoriously arcane procedures to obtain and hold on to a liquor license and I've seen news articles that claim this particular town has the highest fees in the country to get said licenses. I tried doing a quick search through their codes and ordinances but couldn't get a clear answer as to whether or not they can sell alcohol outside.

    Maybe this is a good idea for a field trip after work today?


    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Also, this road appears to be a typical crowned street with drainage going to the curb. There doesn't seem to be a way to pass the drainage flows along the curb. Does water pool on one end during a storm or nuisance drainage? I realize it may be moot in some ways as the overlays have brought the pavement close to top of curb in some areas.
    In this particular community, this hasn't been an issue but I think it probably has more to do with topography than anything else. The downtown area is at a significant grade above a relatively swift moving river just to the west of the area in the link I posted. So all water seems to move towards the west pretty easily from basically anywhere in town. I've been downtown during, and immediately after, very heavy rainstorms and never noticed any pooling.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    Through our permit for outdoor dining in right-of-way, we allow alcohol consumption provided the outdoor dining area is enclosed with a metal railing. But the metal railing is still attached to the building. To allow the serving of alcohol in a freestanding enclosure not attached to the building as WSU MUP Student's photo shows, I think would be very awkward.
    The City of Appleton allows outdoor dining (with alcohol) on public sidewalks, between the 'main traveled' part of the sidewalk and the street curbs, provided that the dining area is enclosed by something (usually just a cheap plastic chain about a half-meter or so above the sidewalk) and that an employee of the establishment must carry the adult beverages between the licensed building and the sidewalk dining area. 'Open' hours for alcohol consumption on the sidewalk are also shorter than for the main building and the sidewalk dining areas must be approved by the city council.

    It works pretty well and these sidewalk dining areas are very popular with the public. Yes, they do add a lot to the warm-weather ambiance of the downtown Appleton area and I heartily recommend them for any city.

    Note that the city also allows fence-enclosed outdoor patios on private land as part of 'licensed' establishments and they can operate under most of the same rules as the part that is indoors, with approval of the city council.

    The impetus for all of that was a smoking ban that was imposed upon the city several years before the ban was made uniform statewide and was an effort to mitigate the financial losses that were being suffered by the bars and restaurants in the city. For those few years, smoking was still legal inside bars/restaurants located outside of the very underbound City of Appleton and it was killing the ones in the city. Smoking is allowed in these outdoor dining/drinking areas.

    Mike

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    Cyburbian prana's avatar
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    Castro Street in Mountian View, CA has a really good example of this. Suggest a Google street view.
    "You can measure the health of a city by the vitality and energy of its streets and public open spaces.-- William H. Whyte..

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    Cyburbian
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    The San Francisco website has some good examples, in my opinion. Unlike the first pic in this thread, they do present some buffer.
    http://sfpavementtoparks.sfplanning.org/index.htm#built

    Liquor laws - if you want these patios, just change 'em!

    As I said in the other thread, IMHO one direction in urban design does need to be about using or adapting what we have - the days of doing a million-dollar-a-block, 6-month disruptive streetscape to gain a few feet of patio space are not over, perhaps, but will be fewer. Add to that we're looking for seasonal and temporal adaptability - patios in summer, parking in winter, closing a street on the weekends, etc.

  14. #14
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Throwing some cold water on this idea...

    It looks attractive, adds to the urban experience, and may even improve the quality of life.

    But I have a big problem using the public right-of-way for private benefit. And it can also be an obstruction for pedestrians, result in a liability to the community, and become a maintenance and cleaning nightmare. Just my observations and experience.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    But I have a big problem using the public right-of-way for private benefit.
    But then again, isn't on-street parking (at least free on-street parking) a private benefit in the ROW, for the business or residence? I think this use shifts the equation from serving the car to serving people, but not the underlying nature of public vs. private use. Do the cities implementing these patios charge for them? Or is it considered a benefit to the overall economic and health and attractiveness of the area?

  16. #16
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    But then again, isn't on-street parking (at least free on-street parking) a private benefit in the ROW, for the business or residence? I think this use shifts the equation from serving the car to serving people, but not the underlying nature of public vs. private use. Do the cities implementing these patios charge for them? Or is it considered a benefit to the overall economic and health and attractiveness of the area?
    Point taken, doc but I disagree. Think in terms that the restaurant tables are restricted to the customers of the restaurant but the on-street parking spaces are available to the public at-large.

    This is probably a circular argument.

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    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Point taken, doc but I disagree. Think in terms that the restaurant tables are restricted to the customers of the restaurant but the on-street parking spaces are available to the public at-large.

    This is probably a circular argument.

    While I'm sure it varies from place-to-place, the one's I've read about where dining is in the ROW is not private seating exclusive to the restaurant (I think this was the New York example). Rather, it's available seating in support of local businesses (like a sandwich shop or something). That, or it's a restaurant, but the restaurant can't restrict who sits in the public seating (but can serve customers who sit there).
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  18. #18
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    While I'm sure it varies from place-to-place, the one's I've read about where dining is in the ROW is not private seating exclusive to the restaurant (I think this was the New York example). Rather, it's available seating in support of local businesses (like a sandwich shop or something). That, or it's a restaurant, but the restaurant can't restrict who sits in the public seating (but can serve customers who sit there).
    This doesn't past the straight face test to me. If I owned a restaurant, purchased tables and chairs and placed them in the public ROW, you're telling me I can't restrict who sits at those tables and chairs even if they brought their meals and drinks from elsewhere?


    Ya'll know my position on this issue. I'm done here. Yes, I have an attitude.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    This doesn't past the straight face test to me. If I owned a restaurant, purchased tables and chairs and placed them in the public ROW, you're telling me I can't restrict who sits at those tables and chairs even if they brought their meals and drinks from elsewhere?

    Ya'll know my position on this issue. I'm done here. Yes, I have an attitude.
    I frankly appreciate and agree with your position, hope you're not done here and find the attitude frankly affirming.

    I'm able to rationalize outdoor dining in ROW when it's connected to the restaurant. I realize outdoor dining is preferred by many and going into the ROW is generally the only way to do this in zero lot line situations downtown. I can understand that. Provided there's still ample pass around width along the sidewalks, permit it. Patrons enter the establishment then generally go out to the patio dining.

    What I don't get is the willingness the compromise the public space further by placing outdoor dining on the other side of the sidewalk, detached from the building. Wait staff and patrons needing to cross the intervening public realm to get back to the building is I think too great of an intrusion. (And to go even further and remove parking spaces to put outdoor dining in the street, to me is as I mentioned in the other thread nucking futs. There's a little irony here in that I just got an email from New Urban Network today touting the importance of onstreet parking.) Of course I'm always the big bad public works guy stuck on "defending the right-of-way".

    On street parking to me can only be constructed as a private benefit in right-of-way when it's singled out to an establishment; I don't see that's the case in any of these downtowns. In all the examples I've seen thus far regarding the detached outdoor dining, it's solely for the abutting use.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    What I don't get is the willingness the compromise the public space further by placing outdoor dining on the other side of the sidewalk, detached from the building. Wait staff and patrons needing to cross the intervening public realm to get back to the building is I think too great of an intrusion. (And to go even further and remove parking spaces to put outdoor dining in the street, to me is as I mentioned in the other thread nucking futs. There's a little irony here in that I just got an email from New Urban Network today touting the importance of onstreet parking.) Of course I'm always the big bad public works guy stuck on "defending the right-of-way".
    I know here, the restaurants that have been able to use parallel parking spaces for their outdoor seating are charged for the spots on an annual or monthly basis and their platforms have to conform to certain standards (the standards may address issues like blockage of storm water run-off). The sidewalks in this particular town can get very busy and I haven't heard of any issues regarding problems between waitstaff and pedestrians getting tangled up in each others paths.

    I recall when the idea to allow this type of seating was first floated many thought that the retail businesses in the area that wouldn't be utilizing it would be against it because it would take away from parking for their potential customers as well but there was enormous support for it from the businesses, the Principal Shopping District, and the Chamber of Commerce with the rationale being that seeing more people outside enjoying themselves would be more inviting to passing cars than just more and more cars parked. The fact that the city also has 5 large parking garages in about a 3 block radius from the center of town that provide free parking for the first few hours probably didn't hurt things either though. In fact, this type of seating has been so successful, the city recently expanded their regulations to allow restaurants in a newly developing district on the east side of town to use it as well.

    In the end, I think the city probably makes more money off of the seating in the parking spaces than they would from cars parked there since the restaurants have to pay for the spaces they are occupying regardless of whether or not there is a patron sitting there.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would also like to add to WSUs comments that in the place he is speaking of there is virtually no speeding and there are folks who avoid sriving through the center of downtown because they know it is congested. This would lessen the likleyhood of serious conflicts between driver and diner or pedestrian.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    ....{snip}...On street parking to me can only be constructed as a private benefit in right-of-way when it's singled out to an establishment; I don't see that's the case in any of these downtowns. In all the examples I've seen thus far regarding the detached outdoor dining, it's solely for the abutting use.
    I'm trying to get my head around this comment (could be the margaritas ). Can you explain this in a little more detail?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    I was just commenting in the same manner as you in that it is not typical to see downtown parking spaces reserved for particular establishments. They are open to the public at large for use. In contrast outdoor dining is usually specifically intended for an abutting establishment.

    I was disagreeing like you with docwatson's assertion that "on-street parking (at least free on-street parking) [is] a private benefit in the ROW..."

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    OK, I'm in agreement with you on the first point, US.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Coming to this conversation late, I agree that outdoor dining near the street adds vitality to the street and no doubt calms traffic a bit. Of course it's ridiculous not to have any kind of barrier at all between the tables and cars--that's really asking for trouble.

    When sidewalk dining first came to my community, I was a resentful pedestrian on the sidewalk and sometimes still am, when waiters and customers alike act as if they have the right of way. Sometimes a waitperson even gives me the stare like "how dare you come into my space" when I'm walking on the sidewalk. All in all, I think it's better if the dining is up close to the storefront and the pedestrians are on the outside edge of the sidewalk.

    In my view not much is gained if we intimidate non-dining pedestrians.

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