On May 15, the Lafayette City-Parish Council adopted the Outdoor Dining Ordinance, allowing for “parklets,” outdoor dining, pushcarts and outdoor merchandise sales in Downtown Lafayette. The effort is the latest measure aimed at increasing vibrancy and enhancing the overall in the downtown area.
According to Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Development and Planning Director Carlee Alm-LaBar, outdoor seating and vendors can provide a lively environment and enhance the character of the area while still preserving pedestrian and other public uses. “Allowing for sidewalk or platform dining and shopping is really the next step as we work towards the vibrant and culturally rich Downtown envisioned in the Downtown Action Plan. We have received feedback from both the potential customers and the vendors that these outdoor, sidewalk options are what they want. Several Downtown stakeholders have expressed their excitement for parklets.”
As a named priority of the Downtown Action Plan, the outdoor spaces allow downtown restauranteurs or merchandisers the ability to acquire a permit to establish a temporary, removable extension of their physical indoor space to the outdoor space adjacent to their building. The area may be on the sidewalk or located on a parklet, which is a temporary space or platform occupying an existing curbside parking spot.
CEO of the Downtown Development Authority Geoff Dyer expressed his enthusiasm for this step: "Vibrancy is one of the primary goals for our Downtown Action plan. Parklets are a great way to bring activity and commerce out to the sidewalk. I think you're going to start seeing a lot of positive improvements along Jefferson Street in the near future, and the investment in more outdoor dining and seating will be a key factor."
In addition to enhanced dining options and experiences for downtown visitors, the ordinance allows for the outdoor sale of merchandise, providing economic development opportunities for entrepreneurs and attracting stable vendors as assets to the area.
Depending on the number of initial applicants, permits may be granted via a competitive application process given limited spaces as described in the ordinance. Applications for the first round open today and responses are due on July 12 to Cathie Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Applications can be downloaded here
Alm-LaBar stated the permitting process will be overseen by a committee, which includes representatives of the police, fire and public works departments, Downtown Development Authority and appointees by the City-Parish Council, to ensure public safety and fair and equitable review process.