Baltimore will soon expand its outdoor dining policies to include permanent parklets, according to a news release from the city’s Department of Transportation.
The city in 2020 temporarily approved parklets, also known as curbside seating or “street seats,” in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was meant to promote social distancing and assist the hard-hit hospitality industry.
Parklets have bloomed so much since then that the Baltimore City Department of Transportation wants to make them permanent. A final outdoor dining policy is expected to take effect July 1, the department says. The existing temporary permits will extend through June 30.
In October, the department released an outdoor dining policy draft and invited the public for comment, giving residents, business owners and others a chance to shape the future of the city’s curbside dining infrastructure.
It received more than 1,000 comments with over 85% in support for permanent parklets, according to BCDOT.
A second round of public comments opened Wednesday for its “Curbside Commercial Policy” and will last for 30 days.
“[R]esidents are encouraged to share their feedback. All comments received during this period will be considered in future updates to the policy,” the release states. Parklets are products of partnerships between the city, local businesses, residents and neighborhood associations.
The new policy will include safety improvements for pedestrians, diners and drivers, according to the release. It will also establish minor privilege permits, fees for outdoor dining and lease of the public right-of-way, the release states.
The city is proposing an annual flat rate of $10 per square foot of curbside facility space.