Residents in Arlington, Virginia, now have a chance to weigh in on whether outdoor dining should stay permanently.
The county is asking for feedback through its Future of Outdoor Dining study, also known as the FOOD study, which will determine whether the COVID-era trend should stick around.
It’ll consider several factors including permanent safety solutions for outdoor dining, such as traffic barriers and planters, as well as the impact on bikers and drivers. Equity and accessibility will help determine next steps.
Residents will need to decide whether parking spaces and parking lots should be considered as outdoor eatery space. The county says the goal is to strike a balance between commercial, public and community interests.
The survey will look at which aspects of the Temporary Outdoor Seating Areas would work best within the county’s existing approval pathway for outdoor dining.
The temporary seating areas have become an important solution for restaurants and cafes hit hard by the pandemic. The program provides relief from county zoning regulations and guidelines for private and the public right of way, or other public spaces that require strict regulation.
Businesses currently operating those areas will be allowed to continue through February 2023, as the county works on establishing permanent guidelines, which are expected to be ready by the spring of next year.