Council to consider permit process for sidewalk retail

The Bainbridge Island City Council will soon hold its final hearing to adopt a permit process for sidewalk retail.

The resolution would require business owners in the Winslow area to pay an annual fee for outdoor retail displays and dining.

It would also require merchants to maintain a five-foot clearance for sidewalk use.

"If the store owners have gone over this and they're comfortable with it, I'm really happy to take their lead," said Mayor Anne Blair Monday.

"If we find that we've made an error, we can go back and tidy up based on that."

Last month city staff asked the council for policy direction regarding the retail use of sidewalks.

While no business currently violates the five-foot requirement, state law requires a permit process for public space, said City Manager Doug Schulze.

The council agreed early on it supports outdoor retail and dining on Bainbridge, and the ordinance should reflect that support.

Schulze met with shop owners last week to discuss the new rules.

In addition to a five-foot clearance, the ordinance requires store owners to specify the number of outdoor furniture and retail racks it will have outside store fronts and at what hours.

It also prohibits any permanent fixtures to be installed into the sidewalk.

During the meeting, some merchants expressed relief to have set regulations to reference and that the city would be willing to work with them to make sure business can continue as usual.

The council has scheduled a second reading for the ordinance during its May 27 regular meeting.

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