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City eases downtown regulations

Janet Urquhart

Risking a brush with tackiness, Aspen will lighten up on its downtown regulations this summer and see what happens.

Acting on recommendations from a pair of retail consultants earlier this year, the City Council agreed Tuesday to allow sandwich-board signs outside shops and restaurants, to substantially cut lease rates for restaurants that provide alfresco dining on the malls, and spend up to $16,000 on tables and chairs that will provide new places to hang out downtown.

The signs are an experiment in the core for the summer months, but they will come with some rules – there has to be 6 feet of clearance around them on a sidewalk, for example. And, the council doesn’t want them to look junky.

“I’m going to trust you guys to keep an eye on the tackiness factor,” Councilman Tim Semrau told staffers.

The signs will still require a temporary license for encroachment into the public right of way, but it will be free, instead of $330.

Restaurant lease rates to use the public malls for outdoor seating will be cut by 38 percent, from $4.02 per square foot to $2.50.

Sixteen tables, with chairs and flower pots, will be placed around the mall areas to encourage “dwell time” – people hanging out. Some tabletops will be painted with checker/chess boards. Councilman Torre pushed for backgammon, as well.

The city will be keeping tabs on them to see how much they’re used, and they may be moved around to determine which locations are best.

If the tables are so popular that they start disappearing, the city is prepared to chain them up.

“I think you get what you expect. I would expect them to stay there,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

The city is also looking into how laws can be modified to allow the serving of alcohol at the tables, which won’t be part of a restaurant’s licensed premises.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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