Outdoor Dining License Fees Virtual Community Meetings, August 17

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne and the City of Somerville invite you to a virtual community meeting to discuss a new fee structure for outdoor dining licenses.

This year, the City plans to implement a new Use of Public Space Fee for outdoor dining licenses. Expanded outdoor dining has been a success of the past few years, adding vibrancy to the squares of Somerville, but using public space for commercial purposes also puts new demands on sidewalks and streets. Prior to 2020, fees for outdoor dining parklets were in the $1000s. The City did not charge fees in 2020, 2021, or 2022 to promote safe outdoor gatherings and support local businesses during the pandemic. In 2023, Somerville only reintroduced administrative fees, when many other communities reinstituted full fees for outdoor dining license holders.

The City’s Economic Development Division is hosting two virtual community conversations to help inform the Use of Public Space Fee’s structure and specific rate. At these sessions, City staff will walk through the issues at hand and examples of outdoor dining fee structures from around the region.

Join one of two sessions on Thursday, August 17, on Zoom to share thoughts and concerns about what a fair outdoor dining license fee structure would look like. The morning session is from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and the evening session is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. These meetings will be offered in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with additional interpretation available upon request.

A follow-up meeting is planned for September to share the proposed license fee structure for additional review. To learn more and find the meeting links, go to somervillema.gov/outdoordining.

One thought on “Outdoor Dining License Fees Virtual Community Meetings, August 17”

  1. It is pretty sad another money grab by the City. The initial reason for outdoor dining was a direct result of covid and a way for businesses to add additional seating to offset the losses that occurred.
    The outdoor dining took off since many liked eating outside and the restaurant could seat more customers increasing business and some profit to recoop loses from years past.
    What the city fails to realize the extra costs to hire more staff, the installation of barriers, the purchase of additional tables, chairs, and decorative items to accommodate the increase in business. This year there were numerous days with bad weather preventing outdoor dining. That impacts paying employees and paying off the extra expense incurred.
    I guess its never enough more money into the coffers and for what look around where outdoor dining spots are located the poor conditions of streets, sidewalks, trash and rodent activity. Another bad decision by the City only will hurt the bottom line for everyone and create more empty spaces.

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