A Boise street as restaurant patios? It might happen to help social-distancing dining

Posted at 12:52 AM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 02:52:40-04

BOISE, Idaho — This article was originally published by Hayley Harding of the Idaho Statesman.

Restaurants along 8th Street in Boise may soon be able to extend their patios into the street.

The Boise City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to support closing 8th Street to vehicle traffic in order to allow restaurants to use the street as extra patio space.

Such a move would allow for better social distancing, the resolution says, which could empower businesses to “reopen responsibly and profitably.”

“I think it’s important that we as a city let all our businesses know how important it is for them to be open, that we need them for recovery,” City Council President Elaine Clegg said.

The timing of the change would be dependent on approval from the Boise Fire Department as well as the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control. Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she expected a more specific announcement with further details by the end of the week.

The proposed modification would be along 8th Street from Idaho Street to Bannock Street, and from Main Street to Idaho Street. Boise does not control the majority of its roads — that responsibility primarily belongs to the Ada County Highway District — but 8th Street from Bannock to Main is an exception.

Cars would be allowed through only for deliveries between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and after restaurants close. There would also be a 20-foot-wide lane to allow pedestrians, bikes and emergency services to get through.

Several cities have closed down streets during the COVID-19 crisis. Some, such as New York City, have opted to leave streets open for pedestrians and cyclists, while others are using the closed roads as an opportunity to encourage people to dine out while social distancing.

In Boise, officials say they are working with businesses to help plan what is best for their area. Karen Boe, spokesperson for McLean, told the Statesman that the city is encouraging requests from other business areas in the city as well, meaning it is possible other parts of Boise could close some streets to traffic with approval from other stakeholders.

Photo Courtesy: Otto Kitsinger