Downtown Bend restaurants and retailers are lobbying in favor of a car-free summer, hoping that proposed street closures will make social distancing guidelines easier to implement. The majority of local eateries have had to cut the number of dining room tables in half.
Outdoor dining options would free up more space for patrons while helping small local businesses stay afloat. Businesses with private parking lots could utilize them as outdoor seating areas, and certain sidewalks would also be open for additional seating.
- Cayla Clark
- Downtown Bend businesses could benefit from car-free streets this summer.
Mindy Aisling, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, confirmed that while a plan was in the works, the DBBA wanted to gather insight from all downtown businesses (including retailers and business offices) before forming an official stance. "We want to make sure we're doing what's right for the entire community," Aisling said.
If the Bend City Council approves any proposed measure, councilors will also have to consider the length of time the outdoor seating measures will be permitted.
Bend's Chief Operations Officer, Jon Skidmore, commented on Friday that if central streets are shut down, it will likely only be through summertime and for a limited amount of time each day.
The Bend City Council will discuss the issue at its May 20 meeting.