I was downtown St. Paul a couple of weeks ago and noticed the sidewalk dining structures on E. 5th St. between Wabasha and St. Peter. The width of the lane between the curb and the dining structures is less than 4 feet. I don’t know what code is.
In May, 2006, the NDDC hosted a downtown forum on this issue of sidewalk dining. Ross Currier blogged about it and wrote:
Panel and audience members offered some ideas, including defining a 42 inch clear zone for the sidewalk in the ordinance, specifying closing times for outside seating, temporary use of parking spaces for seating during special events, and creating a green buffer of potted plants around the outside seating.
Downtown business owner and [then] EDA member Tracy Davis seemed to sum up the sense of the group when she said, “It doesn’t sound like there are any concerns that can’t be addressed, shouldn’t we just give it a try?”
On May 16, 2006, Ross blogged about ArtsPlan ’06 consultant Tom Clough’s support for the idea and wrote: “David Hvistendahl and Maren Swanson are circulating draft ordinance language right now.” (I also posted some of my photos of sidewalk dining structures in Italy to the NDDC blog.)
Robbie and I ate dinner last night on the sidewalk tables (left photo) in front of the James Gang HideAway but of course, we couldn’t have a beer or a glass of wine with our meal. Nor could the patrons down the street at Hogan Brothers. Nor the patrons up the street at the Rueb.
Meanwhile, the Nlfd News reports quotes Rueb owner Joe Grundhoefer as saying, “We’re in the works of having a smoking patio built out back but we don’t know if it will be ready by fall.” I’d much rather see a sidewalk dining structure that smokers and non-smokers could share. There appears to be plenty of room for it on either the Division or 5th St. side of the building (photos below).
So here we are, a year later, summer about to begin, and I don’t think anything has happened to move the ball along. With two and maybe three new restaurants opening this summer on Division (two serving liquor) it would seem that the time is right to have the ordinance changed.
What’s holding things up?