Chamber testifies in support of permanent Outdoor Dining Program

August 2023

On August 23, the Portland Metro Chamber (PMC) publicly supported the city’s proposal to make the Outdoor Dining Program, a program led by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), permanent. This program, which has been an essential lifeline for local businesses during the pandemic and reflects Portland’s evolving urban landscape, is set to become a permanent and sustainable fixture, promoting economic growth, safety, and the city’s unique livability in the coming year.

Jay Clark, Director of Public Affairs for the Portland Metro Chamber, recently addressed the Mayor and City Commissioners, expressing the Chamber’s endorsement of PBOT’s plans for the Outdoor Dining Program. Representing over 2,200 members, the Chamber underscored the vital role that the program plays in revitalizing Portland’s neighborhoods and supporting local businesses.

“Outdoor cafes have become an essential addition to Portland’s renewed neighborhoods and will now be a permanent fixture of Portland’s livability,” said Jay Clark Director of Public Affairs for Portland Metro Chamber. “The Chamber considers this program an important piece in ensuring the economic stability of our local businesses and a tool for the revitalization and full recovery of our central downtown.”

PBOT has made safety and accessibility a priority throughout the program’s adoption and transformation process. Ensuring that outdoor dining installations do not impede bike lanes, handicap accessibility, or street signage. This underscores the city’s determination to create an inclusive and accessible environment for all residents and visitors.

The multi-tiered fee structure proposed by PBOT has garnered support from the Portland Metro Chamber. This structure recognizes the varied challenges faced by different businesses, especially those in central downtown, and offers a range of options for restaurants, bars, and small enterprises to choose from. The Chamber sees this as a strategic move to bolster economic growth by providing local businesses with tools and opportunities to thrive amidst an ever-changing landscape.

Moreover, the Chamber lauds PBOT’s forward-thinking approach of proposing measures to alleviate permit costs in 2024. This transition from a COVID-era fee structure to a more sustainable model aligns with the city’s commitment to aiding businesses in their recovery journey.

The Chamber looks forward to a continued partnership with PBOT and the City Council as the new guidelines are implemented. The program’s success not only bolsters businesses but ultimately preserves the vibrancy that makes Portland a unique and desirable place to live, work, and visit.

The Portland City Council will vote on this proposed program in September. With the potential for outdoor dining permits to be enforced starting on January 1, 2024.