(Aug. 17, 2021) Thanks to the Portland City Council and President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, there is good news for our city’s small business owners and their customers. Fees for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Healthy Businesses permit program will continue to be waived through June 30, 2022.
PBOT’s Healthy Businesses program is a component of the Safe Streets Initiative, the bureau’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Outdoor space continues to be an important tool to support public health. The continuation of this program also supports ongoing economic recovery efforts. Following the overwhelmingly positive public response to the program, the City Council allocated American Rescue Plan funding late last month to continue waiving permit fees through June 30, 2022.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PBOT created the Healthy Businesses program to allow local businesses to creatively use street space to safely serve their customers. Since the program started in May 2020, PBOT has processed about 1,800 permits for more than 800 individual businesses. Approximately 20% of permits have been issued to businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Visit the bureau’s Safe Streets Initiative interactive map to view current permittee locations.
Across the city, these temporary outdoor spaces have allowed businesses to create space for social distancing and accommodate customers who prefer to shop and dine outdoors. PBOT requires permittees to follow specific design requirements and permit conditions. Among them are requirements for pedestrian accessibility, safe use of electrical cords and string lighting, and access for emergency vehicles. The bureau also requires permit-holders to be ready to move or relocate their installations in the case of winter weather or other maintenance and utility work.
Community needs continue to evolve throughout the pandemic and recovery. The Safe Streets Initiative Evaluation Report (23.76 Mb) showed broad support for continuing the program through the pandemic. To participate in a survey, text "plaza" to 844-965-1890. PBOT will continue evaluation of this program to inform the development of long-term permit programs.
PBOT continues to balance other needs in the right-of-way, including safe vehicle circulation and pedestrian access. Please report challenges with Healthy Businesses installations using the Feedback Form. Businesses are encouraged to apply for additional space to prevent crowding on sidewalks.