City Council unanimously passes emergency ordinance to allow for alcohol in parks, expanded outdoor seating
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Members of the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed an emergency resolution in an attempt to help downtown businesses struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective for 90 days, the ordinance was passed to permit outdoor seating areas on sidewalks, in off-street parking areas and in on-street parking spaces to help restaurants adhere to social distancing guidelines but expand capacity. Currently, indoor dining is limited to 50% capacity under a state public health order.
A one-page application is now available on the city’s website for businesses to apply for the special permit.
Per the ordinance, businesses must follow certain regulations, including maintaining a minimum 6-foot unobstructed, accessible path along all public sidewalks. There are also guidelines for using tents and umbrellas, ensuring they are fireproof and properly weighted and secured.
“We intend to work with everyone to get things in place and permitted,” said Rebecca Bessey, city planning director.
The emergency ordinance was initially discussed by council during a special meeting last week. At that meeting, a vote on the proposed ordinance was scheduled for council’s regular meeting Tuesday to give staff time to draft the ordinance and finalize details.
According to City Attorney Dan Foote, the ordinance is not intended to waive or suspend Americans with Disabilities Act parking requirements and will not eliminate accessible parking.
“We’ll give time to review the standards before we start taking a hard enforcement approach,” Bessey said.
The standards allowed under the temporary permit are less restrictive than what is typically allowed for businesses, Bessey added.
Having a requirement to maintain a walkable path was particularly important to council member Heather Sloop.
“It’s important that people aren’t feeling forced onto the parking areas, especially on Lincoln,” Sloop said.
The temporary ordinance also calls for safe, unobstructed pedestrian access to be maintained to all building entrances and exits.
Also approved with the council’s 7-0 vote is the ability to consume alcohol in specific city parks and recreation areas, including Workman Park, Dr. Rich Weiss Park, Iron Springs Park, Snake Island, Steamboat Spring Park, Memorial Park and Stehley Park.
Residents are now allowed to have and consume alcohol in those specific areas between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
“It’s not a free-for-all,” Bessey cautioned.
The measures passed will remain in effect for 90 days, until the beginning of September.
While in-person dining is now allowed, restaurants are still able to offer to-go alcoholic beverages.
“I’m looking forward to seeing these new changes throughout the summer,” City Council President Jason Lacy said.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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