BROW returns for outdoor season with additional fees


El Guo

Oregon State University Students Zaiden Bradbury (left; he/him), Grace Kelly (she/her), and Prospective Student Olivia Flores (she/her) having a conversation at a table outside in downtown Corvallis on April 9. With the return of the outdoor season and GROW, more students and community members will be able to enjoy local restaurants outside.

Gabriel Braukman, News Contributor

Corvallis’s outdoor street dining program for the spring and summer months just opened at the beginning of the month, with several changes.

First introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the outdoor street dining program— called the Business Use of Right-of-Way program— allowed local restaurants to utilize adjacent parking spaces as room for extra outdoor seating. 

“The reason the city decided to do this was because the numbers (of restaurant-goers) were horrendous,” said Simon Date, Corvallis Chamber of Commerce president. “The restaurants were getting pounded anyway, so having this program meant they were able to bring back a lot of the revenue that they would have otherwise lost.”

According to the press release regarding the program, the summer 2022 installation saw 15 restaurants participate. The current version of the program will be running until Oct. 31. It also has a required application fee, as well as a street space fee.

The application fee is a flat $100, however there is an additional street space fee. That is either an additional $200 per parking space, or $1 for every square foot used that isn’t a parking space, like loading spaces.

“It was a popular program, I think honestly at the time it was a vehicle we were able to use for survival,” Date said. “I think it’s fair to say that a lot of restaurants probably wouldn’t have made it through without this program … it just became a popular program, people were able to sit outside, when there is limited seating anywhere in Corvallis.”

“Right now, I’m not so sure,” said Caeden Claeys, manager at Laughing Planet in Corvallis on the restaurant’s participation in the program. “That’s something that the corporate locations are trying to figure out.”

BROW’s changes have resulted in pushback from the businesses it was intended to assist. For example, the maximum fence height has been decreased to 48 inches, which conflicts with some previous installations. This has been rectified in an update, bringing the maximum height to 56 inches, alongside lowering the required division between parking spaces and vehicle lanes from two feet to one foot.  

“I’d say that it (outdoor seating) impacts us,” Claeys said. “People love sitting out front, especially when it’s sunny and people can bring their dogs to the restaurant … it’s more of a family environment when you see things like that.”

Downtown Corvallis is often busy, with parking spaces being an important, and often completely used, commodity. The decision to sell pieces of it, especially in an area bisected by lanes of  traffic, is one that has positives and negatives.

According to Date, some retail stores have brought up concerns regarding the program, arguing that the reallocation of parking spaces would reduce their potential customer base on a daily basis.

“Different businesses have different opinions on it,”Date said. “If you’re a retailer for example, it doesn’t do anything for you … then you’re suddenly now looking at less parking spaces out front. Your customers now may not be able to park in front of your store, they may have to park a block down because there’s now tables and chairs in parking spaces that would have been right outside your front door.”

The execution of the BROW program may be discussed among policy makers and small business owners over the upcoming weeks. However, the potential impact it has for local restaurants is something that is clear.

“I think positively for sure,”Claeys said. “Weather is a big thing that impacts people’s moods, so being out there, being able to fully experience it instead of being cooped up inside is really good for people.”

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