City proposes expanding outdoor dining to increase business capacity

Spaces like sidewalks, streets, parking areas would become “parklets,” which means converting curbside parking spaces into community spots.
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 8:57 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - As a way to help local businesses get through tough economic times, communities across the country are moving towards initiating a concept called “parklets.”

It’s all about opening up safely as businesses continue to feel the strain of the pandemic.

The city says they have a plan to help, and it all begins with parklets.

The City of Laredo’s planning director says the ideal plan would be on “It Street," or Iturbide Street in downtown Laredo, but all businesses around town are welcome to use their space for outdoor dining.

“Imagine if we had several businesses in the downtown on one street that had this set up,” said Planning Director Kirby Snideman. “It would have a great feel to it if you’re walking on the street and you see those people outdoors and activating the streets, so that’s what were hoping.”

Spaces like sidewalks, streets, parking areas would become parklets.

“Either on the right away, let’s say for example downtown on the meters or if they’re joining some sort of street that’s closed, they can do it on the side or if they have their own parking space it would allow for 25% of their parking space to be outside dining, also,” said Arturo Garcia, City of Laredo Building Development Services director.

Businesses must apply for a temporary permit along with submitting their own plan to the building department to make sure tables are separated by 6 feet for social distancing and there’s still space for people to walk.

Although the City of Laredo has not given the green light yet, businesses are still able to speed up the process and apply as of now.

The city’s Building Development Services director oversees the permit applications and there’s no cost for the license.

“Very flexible, zero fee on the permit itself, and also allowing a waiver of a lot of the ordinances that would kind of normally get in the way of being able to do this project,” said Garcia.

He says interest from businesses has been high so far and he’s hoping many take up this opportunity.

At the next city council meeting, members will vote on whether the concept will be adopted here in Laredo.

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