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Fewer Portland restaurants are using street food plazas

The Portland Bureau of Transportation said fewer businesses are applying for the “healthy business permits” needed to use street restaurants.

PORTLAND, Ore. — According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, fewer businesses are using street food plazas.

PBOT’s Dylan Rivera said there were 350 permits so far, half the number from a year ago.

“Many businesses are saying they are ready to get back to normal,” Rivera said.

PBOT wants to improve the safety of outdoor dining structures after receiving complaints from residents, Rivera said.

“When they’re walking around the neighborhood, it’s hard for passing cars to see them,” Rivera said. “It’s hard for them to see around some of these facilities.”

Rivera said there are rules and regulations on where structures can be placed.

“Proximity to a stop sign is a big issue, ensuring we have clearance and vision clearance at stop signs,” Rivera said. “No more than six feet high within forty feet of a stop sign.”

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PBOT will review structural safety and offer new directions going forward, and would welcome feedback from business owners and the community, Rivera said.

“We wouldn’t be here without the structure, we would have closed last year without this patio, all summer it basically paid for itself,” said Eli Johnson, owner of Dot’s Café on Southeast Clinton Street in Portland.

Johnson said he will continue to sit outside for as long as possible because it adds a lot of extra seating and some of his customers are still worried about COVID.

“It costs us about $20,000 to build,” Johnson said. “Timber prices have exploded with the pandemic, labor prices have exploded.”

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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement