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Seattle offers free sidewalk permits to help small businesses during coronavirus pandemic

Seattle leaders announced small businesses can apply for free, temporary sidewalk and curb space permits to expand customer capacity during Phase 2 of reopening.

SEATTLE — A number of businesses have been suffering through the coronavirus pandemic. For that reason, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, along with Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Dan Strauss, are announcing free sidewalk and curb space permits to temporarily help small businesses

The city leaders said it is a new way to navigate public health requirements and financial considerations.

At Majorie Restaurant, near 14th Ave. and E. Union Street on Capitol Hill, there is limited space inside the business. Owner, Donna Moodie, said if her dining room was open, she'd only be able to have about 12 customers dine-in at a time because, under Phase 2 of Governor Inslee's Safe Start plan, restaurants can only operate at 50% capacity.

"It's challenging. I'm not going to lie. It's been a really rough ride," said Moodie.

Currently, Moodie is offering carry out only, and she is considering her options. She said her landlord has already offered her more patio space, and the sidewalk could be a possibility too.

"If I were to go out on the sidewalk, which we have a really wide sidewalk so we would be very legal, I could do that really quickly with a permit," said Moodie. She added that she could add tables and still meet ADA requirements if she did decide to apply for a sidewalk permit.

RELATED: King County moves to Phase 2 of coronavirus recovery

In addition to offering the free sidewalk and curb space permits, the city is also streamlining the process, and prioritizing application reviews, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). If businesses qualify, permits are good for up to six months.

Dave Montoure, owner of West Five in the West Seattle Junction said if his application is approved he could set up four tables in a parking strip, each six-feet apart.  

"We hope for public safety. We hope cases go down. So we are going to play our part in that," said Montoure.

The city is also offering free, temporary merchandise display permits and vending permits.

"I think it's really helpful. I think that the city was listening to the fact that consumers are worried about eating inside, and that restaurants need to social distance. They need space," said Moodie.

“The COVID-19 crisis and resulting economic devastation has caused so many of our small businesses to face the potential of closing their doors forever,” said Mayor Durkan. “For many of our small businesses, the ability to operate outside – even at a limited capacity – provides a much-needed lifeline during these challenging times. At the City, we’re committed to helping our small businesses safely and feasibly reopen, which is why we’re making our sidewalk and street permits free, and expediting turnaround times so small businesses can serve customers sooner, rather than later.”

The city is also launching Phase 2 reopening toolkits to help small businesses. 

RELATED: Snohomish and Pierce counties see rising coronavirus cases in Phase 2