According to MinnPost, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden is likely to start a process that would in the end allow more merchandise to be displayed outside. Under current ordinance, all display and sales are to take place within “an enclosed building,” though there are some exemptions for garden mmaterials, cars, gas-stations, and a few others.
Glidden was quoted as saying that if the sidewalk isn’t blocked, that expansion would allow for more activity and excitement, as well as stronger local commerce.
The article concludes with a kicker, which is that the discussion of changing the law will come down to which businesses can display what. And that quite frankly is one of the biggest questions that will be discussed.
The “What’ in “What can be displayed where” debate
The article references how there used to be mattresses, radiators, or toilets displayed on the sidewalks, which some may have seen as unsightly. Currently, hardware stores legally display shovels, firewood, grills, rakes, and more on the sidewalk. Books, shoes, and kitchenwares may not trigger much discussion but “glassware” from tobacco stores, sexy lingerie from “adult boutiques”, or car tires from an auto repair shop may elicit concern from some in the community.
Would certain types of stores, say adult boutiques, be restricted to any outdoor displays or would a Smitten Kitten or Hustler be allowed to display items that are not age-restricted or facilitate sex?
How does a fair ordinance look like and how would these restrictions ease without picking and choosing industries that should receive a benefit? Perhaps it will come down the community discussion on what is unacceptable rather than what is acceptable.
The “where” in “What can be displayed where” debate
The issue of mobility will be a part of the discussion, surely, as the ADA will require a certain distance (4′) of clear space on the sidewalk. But as we’ve seen in Uptown in the past near Chino Latino or the old Figlio, the minimum clearance may not be sufficient due to the high volume of pedestrians.
In busier areas, should this mean that should be a larger minimum width requirement, or should it depend on the existing width of the sidewalk?
So what do you think? What opportunities or concerns do you see, along with what safeguards should be put into place?