Annapolis Outdoor Dining in Recovery Zones Ends in Five Days

(Annapolis, MD) — From the Mayor’s office:

The City of Annapolis’ Recovery Zones program for outdoor dining in public parking spaces and in restaurant parking lots is ending on November 1, 2021. The program, established as part of the State of Emergency declared by Mayor Gavin Buckley last spring, will be discontinued November 1 because the City is no longer under that pandemic State of Emergency.

Under the State of Emergency, there were two types of outdoor dining options in the City of Annapolis:

 

  • Dining in public spaces. Downtown businesses took over street parking spaces to create “parklettes.”  This emergency use is set to expire November 1, 2021. The desire for outdoor dining begins to wane as the weather turns cooler and retail businesses need the parking capacity to be restored during the holiday shopping season, a critical time for the economic survival of local retail. There is a delicate balance between a limited number of parking spaces and the needs of different kinds of businesses, especially in historic downtown.

  • Dining in areas previously designated for parking.  The Mayor was authorized under the State of Emergency to extend outdoor dining into private parking lots, but this emergency also expires November 1. In the long-term, this would require a change in the zoning code and/or for businesses to provide an alternative parking program. It is crucial that City officials take into account the effect this will have on residential parking in the surrounding areas.

While Mayor Gavin Buckley has said that he is a strong proponent of outdoor dining, and very receptive to the positive feedback from residents and visitors during this period, the conclusion of the State of Emergency requires legislative action from a majority of members of the Annapolis City Council for the program to continue.

“The momentum on this issue seems to be on the side of it continuing,” said Mayor Buckley. “The pandemic opened our eyes to the utility of it, but it turns out that lots of people think it is a cool thing to enjoy a meal out-of-doors.”

Businesses with a “sidewalk dining” permit are still permitted to continue their outdoor dining program. Residents are encouraged to petition members of the City Council on legislation that would restore outdoor dining in public spaces and expand the footprint of businesses who don’t qualify for a sidewalk dining permit.

In a first step towards expansion of outdoor dining, the City Council approved, at the October 25, 2021 meeting, an outdoor dining lease for five downtown businesses in the Market Space area.  The lease involves a fixed daily amount paid to the City for lost revenue associated with 19 metered parking spaces.  The lease is effective beginning November 1, 2021.

The Annapolis City Council is on recess until after the December 6, 2021 inauguration of the Mayor and Council.

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