PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland is extending the pandemic program that allowed restaurants and businesses to expand onto sidewalks and street parking until at least the middle of next year.
The city of Portland will continue waiving fees for business owners who participate in the Portland Bureau of Transportation's (PBOT) Healthy Businesses permit program, through June 30, 2022. The Portland City Council allocated money from the American Rescue Plan to cover the cost of permit fees. The program was set to expire Oct. 31.
The program is part of the Safe Streets Initiative, which PBOT launched in response to the pandemic, opening up more outdoor space so pedestrians and business patrons can social distance. Businesses can apply for permits to use sidewalk and street space for outdoor dining or shopping areas, and the city blocked off some smaller side streets to prevent cut-through traffic and make the areas safer for pedestrians.
The program was a lifeline for restaurants and bars that were able to add additional dining seats outside and build covered or heated structures for customers in the winter.
The program has been wildly popular with businesses and customers. The city said since the program launched in May 2020, it has processed roughly 1,800 permit applications for more than 800 individual businesses. Approximately 20% of permits have been issued to businesses owned by Black, indigenous and other people of color. Survey results were overwhelmingly positive, with 78% of responses including positive or supportive comments.
Concerns about the program included issues like sidewalk congestion and lack of parking.
Businesses can apply for a permit here.