Press Release: City Council Needs to Make Outdoor Dining on Streets & Sidewalks Permanent


Thursday, September 30, 2021


In June of 2020, City Council approved new easier permitting rules that allow restaurants to use sidewalks and parking lanes for outdoor dining, or even close streets to cars in some cases.  These allowances expire in December and 5th Square supports City Council’s legislation to make these changes permanent.

Aaron Bauman, 5th Square member, says, “Facing the realities of our changing climate, our city needs to prioritize our limited outdoor space for people over cars. Our streets are far more valuable as genuine destinations rather than parking spots. The City also benefits from these changes, by collecting more tax revenue overall from streeteries rather than parking -- which helps pay for all our city priorities.

“The new streeteries and sidewalk cafes have made our neighborhood business corridors a more pleasant place to shop and dine. Lively and vibrant street space is Philadelphia's competitive advantage over the suburbs and we need to make sure that people continue to have a reason to visit our shops and restaurants.

David Brindley, 5th Square member, adds, “The changes have also allowed struggling small businesses to survive through expanded seating capacity -- we should not be taking this away from them now. With the recent resurgence of COVID-19, many diners and shoppers will remain hesitant of visiting indoor spaces. The old approval process was cumbersome and inequitable, according to a report from Drexel University’s Lindy Institute, with only the most well-resourced and politically-savvy organizations acquiring permits for adapting outdoor space.”

Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman, author of the report and board member of South Street Headhouse District, says, “The amount of barriers to entry within the old process for right of way permits created an inherently inequitable system. The changes that came out of the pandemic response are exactly what was needed to make Philadelphia's streets more humane public spaces. These improvements should be retained - and expanded upon - for the future livability of our city.”

5th Square will be advocating for the passage of legislation to make permanent the current permitting process for streeteries and sidewalk cafes.

5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee. We're an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and more and better public spaces.