City offering ways for businesses to expand outdoors during pandemic

An emergency ordinance passed July 13 offers permits for sidewalk and parking lot use and increased temporary advertising outside businesses

Renton passed an emergency ordinance on Monday that will make it easier for small businesses to sell goods and advertise, in an effort to assist small business recovery in the wake of COVID-19, including permits for sidewalk and parking lot outdoor seating.

The ordinance takes effect immediately and will continue until King County enters into Phase 4 of the governor’s “Safe Start Plan” or Dec. 31, 2020, whichever comes first.

“It is our goal to support our local businesses and help them with their recovery so that they can safely expand and serve more customers,” Mayor Armondo Pavone stated in a press release.

The ordinance introduces two temporary measures. The first is an “Economic Recovery Revocable Right-of- Way Permit.” This permit allows businesses to expand their retail area onto the sidewalk in front of their building and adjacent private parking lots. These areas can be used for sales, pickup and outdoor restaurant seating. Any use of these areas would require the business to maintain appropriate social distancing standards and other public health guidelines.

Phase 2 of the governor’s plan to reopen Washington state limits businesses to 50 percent of their outdoor capacity and 50 percent of their indoor capacity. Any expansion of outdoor capacity under this ordinance will not affect these percentages, according to the city.

Businesses interested in exploring expansion options should contact the city’s economic development division by calling 206-503-1742 or emailing for assistance.

The second part of the ordinance defines “Economic Recovery Signs.” Businesses can place A-frame signs, banners or other temporary style advertising or events signs in front of their buildings. Advertisements are limited to economic-recovery related events such as grand re-openings or announcements about expanded services or capacities.

Within the City Center Sign Regulation Area, each business can display one sign. The sign must be placed next to the building and not encroach onto the sidewalk. Outside this area, businesses can have one street-front sign and one other sign abutting in any added space.

The city will waive any permits or fees for these signs through Dec. 31, 2020.

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