Ten restaurants will be joining the Portland Street Seats program this year.
Street Seats is a program of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) that allows businesses or non-profit organizations to convert on-street parking into other public uses, such as café seating or a mini-park. Based on similar programs in San Francisco and New York City, the program enlivens the streetscape by creating spaces for Portlanders to enjoy seating and a meal or a drink outdoors, which in turn enhances street vitality and benefits local businesses.
The city will allow about ten additional businesses to expand into parking spaces that front their buildings. Currently, eight restaurants take advantage of the program, under which restaurants can build some sort of platform and railing to make the dining area more inviting and ostensibly safer.
Here is a list of restaurants in 2014 who have applied to renew 2013 permits:
- The Analog Café, 720 SE Hawthorne
- Bartini/Urban Fondue, 2108-2118 NW Glisan
- Center for Architecture, Design Competition, 403 NW 11th Ave
- Enzo’s Caffe Italiano, 2529 NE Alberta St
- Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N Mississippi Ave
- Oven & Shaker, 1134 NW Everett St
- The Portland Bottle Shop, 7960 SE 13th Ave
- Songbird Café, 6839 SE Belmont St
These are the restaurants which have filed for new permits:
- Bamboo Izakaya, 1409 NE Alberta St
- Bonfire Lounge, 2821 SE Stark
- Brix Tavern, 1338 NW Hoyt St
- Dick’s Kitchen Belmont, 3312 SE Belmont St
- Lampoc Brewing, 1620 NW 23rd Ave
- McMenamins – Barley Mill, 1629 SE Hawthorne Blvd
- McMenamins – Greater Trump, 1520 SE 37th Ave
- Ristorante Roma, 622 SW 12th Ave
- SoMa Ecodistrict public seating, SW 4th Ave, between College and Hall
- Torta-Landia, 4144 SE 60th Ave
Note that the 2014 application window has now closed, but it is interesting to look at the requirements that make up the application process.
Design document package. Street Seat applicants will be required to submit a complete set of detailed proposal drawings in order to be considered for approval, including a full set of detailed design drawings.
[The city website lists design/architecture firms that have "identified themselves as capable of designing and/or installing Street Seat style platforms.]
Community support documentation. Applicants will also be required to submit documentation of community support as an application attachment. Demonstrated neighborhood support for the proposal will be one of the evaluation criteria used to select submissions.
Design Guidelines. Changes in 2014 to the Street Seat Design Guidelines include a reduction of the maximum platform width from seven feet to six feet. Also Street Seat applications will be accepted for locations on streets with posted speed limits of 30 mph.
Café Seating Permit. Applicants who have an approved Café Seating Permit for existing outdoor sidewalk seating will need to submit a revised Sidewalk Café Concept Drawing and sign a new Responsible Party Agreement form.
[A seating permit is required for any sidewalk seating, not just those which occupy parking spaces]
Renewal applications. Applicants who wish to renew existing Street Seat installations will be required to complete a new application form each year. In addition, they must provide demonstration of continued community support for installation and drawings detailing any proposed design changes, if applicable.
I’ve had several readers comment on the loss of parking revenue, but in actuality, the city may come out ahead, as along with a $500 base fee, a charge of $105 per linear foot of platform, $2000-$7000 for lost meter revenue, and a fee to cover “additional incurred costs”, just the paperwork and permits more than make up for the loss.
So here’s the thing. I’ve sat in these areas at Oven & Shaker as well as on Mississippi Avenue. Though it seems to be very popular, why anyone wants to sit next to the roar of rush hour traffic Northwest Everett St. is beyond me. I found it to be a miserable, and slightly unnerving experience. Mississippi Pizza, located on a quieter street was a much more pleasant experience, especially since the owner had obviously made an effort to make the area interesting. Still, I couldn’t help wondering about the overall safety of the program. A few wood rails or a planter aren’t going to make much of a difference when a driver preoccupied with texting plows into the side of one of these seating areas, or someone who is parked behind one of them hits the gas instead of the brake. As much as I like the idea of these, and appreciate the effort being put into the design, I wonder if the program as it exists isn’t a disaster waiting to happen. It seems to me that there should be a bit more stringent effort to keep vehicles away from the Street Seats.
You can see lots of images of current Street Seats here.