Councilors approve closure of downtown Portland to help businesses survive

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 7:19 AM EDT
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In an effort to help local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Portland City Council approved a plan to close some downtown streets.

The council meeting during an online Zoom session.

The plan will close certain streets to allow restaurants and retail shops to expand into outdoor space as well as create more pedestrian space for social distancing.

At certain times, there will be a 12-foot lane through the middle of these streets for deliveries and emergency vehicles. With the city council approval, the plan is now in the hands of city staff who will work on any needed adjustments.

Real estate and restaurant owners commented during Monday night's virtual meeting -- mostly in support of the idea, to help bring more customers to these businesses safely.

City Manager Jon Jennings says the measure may be adjusted and could extend beyond downtown.

"This is not a program that's focused only on the downtown. This is citywide and we are being very amenable for what we can use as city assets to help businesses restart in the city." Jennings said during the meeting.

Businesses along those closed streets can pay a $1,000 fee for parklets, or parking spaces, to use. The city says further safety measures will also be evaluated.

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