KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Outdoor eating may be around to stay for bars and restaurants across Kansas City.

When the pandemic hit, the city waived application and licensing fees along with other requirements for restaurants who wanted to expand dining rooms outside. The extra square footage allowed restaurants to serve more customers when occupancy limits were restricted for safety reasons.

Over the past two years, the city said it issued 81 temporary permits to business owners who opened parklets, street cafes, and sidewalk cafes.

Now that health experts say we’re out of the pandemic phase of COVID-19, many businesses would like to keep the outdoor dining options.

The city’s public works department said it supports the plan, with a few tweaks.

If approved by the full city council, businesses would be allowed to apply for a permanent permit to open a parklet, street café, or sidewalk café.

Permits would also include an annual $250 application and $600 license fee. Those fees were waived starting in 2020 as the city worked to help restaurant owners stay open during the pandemic.

If approved, the city could begin charging the fees again on May 15, 2022.

New permit applications would also require property owners and tenants living within 250 feet of a business to sign off on the owner’s outdoor plan.

Existing street and sidewalk cafes would be grandfathered in and wouldn’t need neighbors to sign off since the outside portion of the business is already in place. They would be required to pay the $600 licensing fee this year, but not the application fee.

If the ordinance is passed, Public Works is responsible for notifying permit holders of the additional fee.

The full city council is expected to vote on the proposed changes to the ordinance Thursday afternoon.

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