Pittsburgh is looking to continue allowing businesses to use outdoor space for dining, displays

The Pittsburgh City Council is considering legislation that would allow restaurants and retailers to continue to use sidewalks and streets for outdoor seating or shopping, as many have done during the pandemic.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Bobby Wilson, would allow businesses to apply for permits to use sidewalks and pavements to expand their outdoor footprint, which began when covid-19 restrictions placed increased emphasis on the outdoor space.

While most pandemic restrictions have been lifted, restaurants and other businesses are still struggling with the economic downturn. The legislation said continuing to allow businesses to use the outdoors could help them stay afloat.

“The city recognizes that outdoor dining and retail activities can be in the interest of economic development, vibrancy and attractive places,” the legislation says.

The Department of Mobility and Infrastructure would issue the licenses, which would allow businesses to use space on public sidewalks or streets for restaurant seating, retail displays or food preparation.

If applicants wish to set up outside a building that they do not own, they must obtain written permission from the owner. Businesses will also need to submit plans outlining their use of outdoor space, hours of operation, business occupancy certificate, and a certificate from their insurance company.

Any outdoor restaurant or retail activity located near an intersection should keep an unobstructed space within 10 feet of the curb line. Outdoor dining or retail space must not be within 15 feet of a transit stop or sidewalk, or within 5 feet of a fire hydrant .

Businesses using sidewalk space up to 10 feet wide should leave at least 4 feet of sidewalk clear. Businesses using a sidewalk wider than 10 feet should leave at least half of the sidewalk free.

Several other stipulations include requirements that would prohibit businesses from securing furniture to roads or sidewalks, ensuring furniture is at least 18 inches from the edge of a sidewalk, and limiting outdoor seating. 30 maximum per restaurant.

If passed, the measure will come into effect 30 days after it is signed by the mayor. The measure could be ready for a final vote in two weeks.

Julia Felton is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, [email protected] or via Twitter .