In May 2020, as the City was grappling with the beginning of the COVID 19 Pandemic, we recognized that our beloved local restaurants and businesses needed a lifeline. I issued emergency orders that allowed increased outdoor dining options under a brand new “Streatery” program. Streatery allowed the conversions of parking meter spaces and private parking lots into outdoor eating areas across the city. Restaurants rose to the occasion, and made each outdoor oasis even more inviting than the next. Decorative lighting, innovative menus, heaters and inviting décor transformed our streets and made us all appreciate the character and vitality that these spaces brought to our city.

With the support of the Common Council, we extended the emergency Streatery program for two years, and I have been working with our City Staff to make the best parts of these beloved temporary measures a permanent part of our City’s future. Many business owners expressed how important this program was to the survival of their business in 2020 and 2021. Moving from an Emergency Order to a permanent program will help businesses continue to move towards economic recovery.

Over the last six months, staff and City Committee members and I have been reaching out to businesses, city residents and others to craft a permanent Streatery program for both sidewalk cafes and private parking lots. The proposed permanent program changes are currently being reviewed by City boards and committees, and are scheduled to be on the Common Council agenda for a final decision on March 15th. For more details on the proposed changes and committee timelines, you can review the Summary of Ordinance Changes.

The new changes will affect cafes beginning this spring. I want to thank all of our residents for supporting our local businesses downtown and throughout the city, and I look forward to seeing all of you enjoying our amazing variety of restaurants and cafes outside again this year.

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