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Archive for Monday, August 18, 2008

Commission to consider sidewalk seating for bars

Lindsay Buscher, left, of Lawrence, and Karen Rippel, of Topeka, enjoy an outdoor lunch Monday on Massachusetts Street. The city is considering lifting a long-standing ban against downtown bars applying for sidewalk seating areas.

Lindsay Buscher, left, of Lawrence, and Karen Rippel, of Topeka, enjoy an outdoor lunch Monday on Massachusetts Street. The city is considering lifting a long-standing ban against downtown bars applying for sidewalk seating areas.

August 18, 2008

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Commission to consider sidewalk seating for bars

Lawrence City Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday night will consider removing regulations that ban bars from having sidewalk drinking areas. Enlarge video

A pitcher of Budweiser and a sidewalk seat: it may soon be the newest downtown attraction.

City commissioners at their meeting Tuesday night will consider lifting a long-standing ban against downtown bars applying for sidewalk seating areas. Since 1994, downtown restaurants that make at least 70 percent of their sales from food have been allowed to apply for sidewalk seating areas. But bars and restaurants that don't meet that sales standard have been prohibited.

Now, the rules could undergo a dramatic change by reducing the food sales requirement for all businesses, and eliminating it altogether for about 15 downtown bars. The proposed regulations are being billed as a compromise between the city and bar owners, who have been clamoring for outdoor seating since the city implemented a smoking ban more than three years ago.

"This would help us tremendously," said Jerry Neverve, owner of Red Lyon Tavern, 944 Mass. "The smokers are out there anyway. They might as well be contained in an area."

The proposed regulations, however, wouldn't open the door for every downtown bar to have a sidewalk drinking area. Instead, only downtown bars that can show they have no room to build a back deck or other outside area for their patrons would be allowed to receive a sidewalk seating license.

City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said he thinks only five to six additional businesses will end up qualifying for a sidewalk license.

"I think there will be some change to downtown, but not a significant change," Chestnut said. "I don't think the ambiance will change at all."

Not all downtown merchants are sure. Joe Flannery, president of Weaver's Department Store, said he had questions about the proposal.

"I just think our sidewalk space is precious, and as much foot traffic as we have, I wouldn't like to see it become more congested," Flannery said. "And I think if you are allowing people to drink outside, you are going to have some issues."

Currently, patrons of downtown restaurants with sidewalk seating areas can drink outside, but many of them do so as part of a meal. At the bars, that would not be the case.

Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said her membership recognized that there could be some problems, but generally wanted to give the new arrangement a try.

"Given the smoking ban, this seems like the only fair thing to do for some of these businesses," Pennington said.

The new regulations would make several other significant changes. They include:

¢ No glass drinkware, glass bottles or aluminum cans would be allowed in the sidewalk areas because of safety concerns.

¢ Future businesses wanting to apply for sidewalk dining areas - excluding the group of bars that already exist - would have to show that 55 percent of their sales come from food. Currently, the requirement is that they derive 70 percent of their sales from food. That would make the sidewalk dining regulations consistent with downtown's zoning requirements, which state no new business can serve alcohol unless they make 55 percent of their sales from food.

¢ Staff members from the city's Codes Enforcement Division would inspect all sidewalk dining areas once every three months to ensure they comply with city regulations.

¢ No sidewalk seating area would be allowed if it left less than five feet of unobstructed sidewalk space for pedestrians.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday night at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

Comments

Confrontation 6 years, 4 months ago

It'd be nice to have some good outdoor music. Anyone ever been to Bricktown in OKC? Yes, it's truly a manufactured waterway, but it attracts a lot of people. They have several outdoor seating areas (attached to bars), and they have singers and bands with some decent talent. All we get in Lawrence is an incredibly boring city band concert series in a park and wasted beggars attempting to play a guitar. Keep it classy, Lawrence!

Chris Ogle 6 years, 4 months ago

I refuse to go into a Lawrence Bar simply because of the no smoking rule. If I want a cold one, I go to Baldwin. Outside seating would be helpful, but in the winter...brrr

woodenfleaeater 6 years, 4 months ago

Sweet, now I won't have to go inside to use the restroom.

nobody1793 6 years, 4 months ago

"No glass drinkware, glass bottles or aluminum cans would be allowed in the sidewalk areas because of safety concerns"Grey Goose in a plastic cup = Classy.

chargdup 6 years, 4 months ago

"City commissioners at their meeting tonight ..."Doesn't the commission meet on Tuesdays? Something's wrong on a Monday night.

seriouscat 6 years, 4 months ago

Make it a pedestrian mall and encourage outside seating areas while strictly enforcing a no panhandling and no drunk in public ordinances. Do a better job of cleaning off the sidewalks. Include a bike lane, some bike racks, and more seating and more shade trees in the center of the pedestrian mall. Maybe move the farmers market to the center of the mall and extend activities which are now taking place off the mall at South Park down the mall to encourage people to window shop. This proposal would probably pit the retailers who are afraid that having to park 20 feet farther away will discourage their customers from shopping, against the bars and restaurants who will clearly benefit from such an arrangement. But if it was properly done, it wouldn't hurt and could very well help attract more sales in the long run.

Emily Hadley 6 years, 4 months ago

"No glass drinkware, glass bottles or aluminum cans would be allowed in the sidewalk areas because of safety concerns."The only reason this has ever been an issue in my experience is because there isn't anywhere to sit or safely place your drink.So, I will still be able to have a glass of wine outside at Teller's at night, but I will have to order it in a plastic cup at the Red Lyon? A little odd, but I guess it's better than nothing.Still... no aluminum??

classclown 6 years, 4 months ago

Chargdup I believe the reason is that this story was written for tomorrow's print edition hence the references. For whatever reason the powers that be at LJW decided to post the story to their online version as it was probably going to print rather than waiting until tomorrow to post it.

Meatwad 6 years, 4 months ago

Sidewalk seating is fine. What we need to get rid of is the HUGE number of street bums. I'm not talking about musicians, just the beggars. This problem is getting increasingly out of control.

Kasha 6 years, 4 months ago

Oh, dear. More wringing of hands. More wishy washy procrastinations. More "well, we may have to have an open meeting on this issue." And then you do, and overwhelmingly those in attendance express preference for one action, only to have the Commission decide on the opposite action. IMO, Mike Amyx is the only intelligencia on this pathetic Commission.The City Commission reminds me of my 27 years as an Army wife. Twice, when asked in which Theater of Operations he wished to serve for his next assignment, my husband asked for Europe. We were ordered to the Far East. Then we caught on. The third time, he asked for the Far East, and we were ordered to Europe. Get the analogy?The City Commission seems to completely ignore what the public has to say. The same way they ignore the budget they have to run the City. What ever happened to that huge revenue collected after the NCAA parade in March?

Baille 6 years, 4 months ago

People have been talking about making part of Mass into a pedestrian mall since I settled here a couple of decades back. But has anyone ever come up with a real plan? The infrastructure challenges and the potential negative impact on homes (permanent) and business (temporary) in the area would be huge. As would the cost.

Keith 6 years, 4 months ago

"igby (Anonymous) says:You can't even walk down the sidewalks now, not without having to navigate around these stupid out door seating pens for stupid people who will eat in a dusty pig pen. The winter makes them useless anyway. Street bums and kids on bikes and skate boards are disregarding the law and riding on the sidewalk unenforced.If the city will not enforce the basic laws on the sidewalk regarding bikes and skate boards, the liquor sales will be non-enforced as well."Take out the trees next, so we can walk on the sidewalk stupid CC'sShorter igby: "Damn kids get off my lawn!"

igby 6 years, 4 months ago

You can't even walk down the sidewalks now, not without having to navigate around these stupid out door seating pens for stupid people who will eat in a dusty pig pen. The winter makes them useless anyway. Street bums and kids on bikes and skate boards are disregarding the law and riding on the sidewalk unenforced. If the city will not enforce the basic laws on the sidewalk regarding bikes and skate boards, the liquor sales will be non-enforced as well.Take out the trees next, so we can walk on the sidewalk stupid CC's

Keith 6 years, 4 months ago

Pedestrian mall: Never going to happen. Do you see the large number of trucks parked in the middle of Mass. St. daily, making deliveries to the businesses there? Most of them are too wide/tall/long to fit in the antique alleys, or what's left of the alleys.

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

Put an electric trolley in the middle of Mass from 6th to 11th and extend the sidewalks out to it. That'll give everyone plenty of room and the traffic lights at 6th can be simplified a bit.

hilary 6 years, 4 months ago

Is it crazy to just make Mass St. an open walking area, like the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder? I realize we would need probably another parking garage (or for people to actually use the one we currently have), but there is definitely lack of walking space downtown. It's nice where they have installed the in-ground planters, but that job is yet to be completed.

thebigspoon 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a great idea!Have each bar tear down their building. Move it back ten feet or so, then they will have room for sidewalk seating.Better yet. Make Mass street a walking mall.

Tammy Yergey 6 years, 4 months ago

I love outdoor seating, and I don't smoke... I pick restaurants just because they have outdoor seating. I think it is a great idea!

Lindsey Buscher 6 years, 4 months ago

Outdoor mall, definitely...like pearl street in boulder. Does anyone remember when the CC said that Lawrence has trouble drawing in out-of-towners? That Topuka and OP are above 1.0 in draw? And that the solution to that problem is to build another Walmart? Well, something like Pearl street would definitely draw...I'd even be in favor of opening up Mass St. to more chains if that were the case. Full on diversity of businesses...the little guy coexisting with the chains.CC could totally redeem themselves if they did that!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

budwhysir: "Come on people, I like to stand at the edge of my property line by the street and drink a beer, just to get attention"So... do you do the whole crushed can on the forehead thang, as a finale?,;-)

George_Braziller 6 years, 4 months ago

There are already parking problems with streets on the edge of downtown. One of them is that the downtown employees park on the residential streets ALL day -- EVERY day.-----------------------------------------Baille (Anonymous) says: The infrastructure challenges and the potential negative impact on homes (permanent) and business (temporary) in the area would be huge. As would the cost.

budwhysir 6 years, 4 months ago

Just another way to give out wii tickets (walking while intoxicated)Come on people, I like to stand at the edge of my property line by the street and drink a beer, just to get attention

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