Covid-19: Outdoor Space

Now, more than ever, we will need to allow for flexible and creative solutions to help small business owners rebound from the covid-19 pandemic, especially restaurant and retail operations.

To that end, we’ve begun our campaign to help support efforts here in Lexington, from writing the mayor and council advocating for the loosening of restrictions and a centralized approval process, to finding resources small business owners can utilize to take advantage of outdoor space.

Recommendation Letter to the Mayor

Below, you will find a copy of the letter we sent to Mayor Gorton and council on May 16th, 2020, advocating for the further loosening of restrictions and the waiving of fees for the creative use/placemaking of outdoor space to help businesses rebound from Covid-19.

Also, to allow businesses to consider it more economically feasible, in our emails we asked the mayor and council to consider extending the initial pilot program period beyond three weeks, so businesses have the time to properly prepare and execute any outdoor solutions they come up with.

Dear Mayor Gorton and Council,

Thank you for your leadership during this trying time and for showing a willingness to explore different outdoor seating options for restaurants as they begin to reopen next week. As you know, flexible and creative solutions are needed now, more than ever, to ensure our favorite Lexington businesses make it through the Covid-19 pandemic.

While many cities around the world are implementing minimal changes, we believe Lexington can use this opportunity to show leadership on the global stage, by going beyond current norms and developing a comprehensive solution that helps make the reopening successful for all of our local businesses.

Our organization, Lexington United for Livability, is made up of a group of residents focused on creating a more inviting, resilient, and accessible Lexington for all. And, to that end, we have come up with a number of proposed solutions that we believe could have the greatest impact on local businesses. 

We recommend the following (while of course using proper social distancing):

  • Allow underutilized private property, such as parking lots, to be used for seating and carryout staging areas (Louisville)
  • Allow on-street parking spaces, both metered and un-metered, to be used for seating and carryout staging areas (Cincinnati)
  • Allow for partial and/or full street closures and use of public space for seating areas where feasible (plazas, parks, etc)
  • Allow the use of traffic calming measures to protect newly created seating areas
  • Allow the serving of alcohol in newly created seating areas under current licenses (Kansas City)
  • Waive any municipal fees associated with the above recommendations

Additionally, we believe there is a need to streamline the request and approval process. By developing a simplified guide and centralized online application, similar to what is currently being done in Cincinnati, you will help ensure interested businesses receive timely approval.

We know you love Lexington as much as we do, so we hope you will take our recommendations into strong consideration. We would also welcome the opportunity to provide assistance and help in seeing these recommendations through, if needed.


The Lexington United for Livability Team

Sign Our Letter

If you’d like to show your support for local restaurants and retail, and join us in an effort to ease restrictions on the use of public space to help local businesses thrive, please sign our letter and share it with your friends.


City-Level Insights

Lexington Restaurant/Retail Reopening Guidelines and Applications

Grants and In-Kind Marketing Support From Downtown Lexington

Strong Towns Local Leaders Toolkit

Outdoor Space Utilization

Better Block Foundation Parklet Guide

KCMO Neighborhood Open Streets How-To Guide

Need Help/Have Something to Share?

Would you like some help using creative placemaking strategies to better use the outdoor space near your business? Do you have something in mind, but aren’t sure how to pull it off? Or, maybe, you have a success story you’d like to share with us?

Send us an email or use our contact form to reach-out.