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Seattle cuts red tape on outdoor seating to help restaurants reopening in Phase 2

Falafel shop employee Javohn Ferguson works to pack a customer's take-out order. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that the city soon hopes to offer free “streamlined” temporary permits, allowing restaurants and cafes to expand outdoor seating.

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The permit — valid for six months — would let restaurants expand their outdoor seating capacity to include additional sidewalk and parking space areas for customers.

The hope from the city is to provide relief for restaurants as they begin to reopen at 50% capacity in Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan. City officials say that the idea “came straight from the small business community.”

“We are continuing to find new ways to assist our small business community in these challenging times,” SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said in a news release. “Whether it’s with temporary permits, Stay Healthy Streets, or the priority retail and food pick up zones, we’re committed to being nimble in the use of public space in service to employers eager for partnership and support.”

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The move is pending the passing of legislation by Seattle City Council, sponsored by Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Dan Strauss. Restaurants can begin submitting applications for the permit on Friday. The process for approving them will also be expedited, waiving the typical two-week waiting period that would normally be required.

The temporary permit will also be available to food trucks, as well as outdoor retail to allow for additional space outside in front of shops to display merchandise.

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