PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – On Wednesday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation announced updates to the Healthy Business Permit program that are set to start on September 1. Back in May, City Council approved additional American rescue Plan funding which allows the Healthy Businesses program to transition from a short-term pandemic response to a long-term program. PBOT says the program that allowed restaurants and bars to stay open during the pandemic with outdoor dining structures will continue after the current permits expire Aug. 31. Business owners and managers we spoke with are excited it’s here to stay.
“I was thrilled, honestly,” said Brian Gardes, owner of The Pharmacy Bar PDX in NW Portland. “I was excited the first time they brought it out during COVID. We’ve invested quite a bit into it to make it a space people really enjoy and will last a long time.”
“We’re the smallest bar in Portland and without the outdoor seating, we wouldn’t have been able to make it through the pandemic,” said Nathan Reynolds, manager at M Bar in NW Portland. “So it’s a really great program that the city decided to all the bars and restaurants.”
A new phase of permits will be starting on Sept. 1 according to PBOT. Permits issued during this phase will expire Dec. 31, 2023. PBOT says this longer permit cycle will give staff a chance to develop the permanent program, request public feedback, and inspect existing sites. Applications are set to open mid-July. PBOT says it will send businesses an email update when the application form is live.
PBOT says this new phase will have some changes, which include:
PBOT says fees for the Sept. 2022 to Dec. 2023 permit cycle will include a $150 application fee, $500 per parking space used, and $6 per linear foot for sidewalk use.
“It supports the businesses, so we are willing to pay the extra costs associated to make that happen,” said Reynolds. “After seeing the prices, it’s much lower than pre-pandemic, where it was upwards of $5,000 to set up one of these outside parking spaces. The newer prices are much more business friendly.”
“I had a number in my head that if the city came back with it, above that number, it just wouldn’t financially make sense for us,” said Gardes. “I have to say what they came back with was more than reasonable. Looking over the fee structure, it seems like the kind of thing that is not going to be too much of a burden for businesses to incur.”
Since the program started back in May 2020, PBOT states it’s issued over 1,000 Healthy Business permits in the city. After the current permits expire, the new permits issued will be good from Sept. 2022 to Dec. 2023. PBOT says applications will open in mid-July.
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