PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia City Council committee voted Tuesday to change the laws governing streeteries. If approved by the full City Council, most streeteries would stay intact, but some business owners may have to get new permits.
A City Council committee compromised on two bills regarding streeteries. Now, these structures that popped up post-lockdown will need to follow the same rules as sidewalk cafes.READ MORE: Triple Shooting In Kensington Leaves 2 Men Dead, Another Injured, Philadelphia Police Say
“Overall, I think it’s going to be difficult for restaurants and customers,” Mi ‘N Tea owner Troy Dieu said. “It’s going to be a shame if it goes away.”
Fear was growing in the restaurant community that their streeteries would go away soon.
Dieu is the owner of Mi ‘N Tea in Manayunk. He opened the Vietnamese sandwich and coffee shop in the middle of the pandemic and doesn’t know of a time without a streetery.
“There’s limited space inside so people can actually still sit out and enjoy,” he said.
“It’s really the safer option to keep them open,” Alison Lindley, of Manayunk, said. “That way people aren’t forcing themselves inside, which I think would be less safe.”
While the future of streeteries is still in doubt, they’re not totally up in the air.
In a compromise between City Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilmember-at-large Allan Domb, restaurants in the city’s main business corridors — like Manayunk, Old City, Center City, Northern Liberties and elsewhere — can keep their streeteries intact.READ MORE: Car Catches Fire In Old City After Crash, Leaves 1 Person Hospitalized
If approved by the full City Council, the outdoor dining setups will be regulated by the Streets Department and Licenses and Inspections. There will be size limits and they can’t be close to a corner, block a fire hydrant, or obstruct visibility.
“The committee’s approval is a major step toward making this remarkable outdoor dining amenity a permanent fixture for our city. Streeteries have saved so many restaurants throughout the pandemic, and we expect the permanency will allow businesses to invest in high-quality, safe, and accessible structures that will support the future of our city,” Domb said in a statement. “While there is still much work ahead of us to address all outdoor dining options, we are advancing legislation today that will help our current businesses keep their doors open in any environment, make Philadelphia attractive for generating new businesses and become a model for success as an exciting, world-class city.”
Earlier Tuesday in a public hearing, business leaders argued streeteries were necessary as the pandemic lingers.
“The uncertainty created by the delta variant in late summer and early fall made clear that true recovery would likely be measured in years, not months,” Priscilla Luce with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance said.
The popularity of streeteries even prompted an online petition. The petition by the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association says allowing the streeteries to stay would give restaurants clear and long-term guidance as recovery from the pandemic continues.
“It’s best to have the option,” Lindley said.
City Council will vote on these bills at a later date.MORE NEWS: Crews Battle House Fire In Doylestown, Bucks County
All permits for these streeteries expire on Dec. 31.