The Kansas City Missouri City Council adopted three new ordinances to help restaurants during the pandemic. The ordinances make it easier for restaurants to serve patrons on sidewalks and parking lots, and also renew permission for restaurants to serve mixed drinks for take-out and delivery. While these measures are temporary and require the issuance of city permits, they are a positive sign that city leaders are willing to support the businesses that support the city.
- Ordinance 200376 refers to the temporary expansion of sidewalk cafés, parklets and street cafés.
- Ordinance 200377 temporarily suspends parking requirements for restaurants and bars.
- Ordinance 200378 temporarily suspends the prohibition against delivering alcoholic beverages to or by vehicles.
Kansas City, like municipalities across the country, is going to take a significant hit to the bottom line as a result of efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19. City leaders have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are willing—even eager—partners with the men and women whose entrepreneurship drives the city economy. The regulations being waived likely caused more heartache than they were worth even in good economic times.
The permitting process should not be used to show favor to certain businesses or parts of the city—but favoritism that has marked more than a decade of city spending and regulation. If sidewalk cafes are good for downtown, they are good for midtown and the northland. Treat everyone equally. And if these policies are good temporarily, they are likely good permanently.
The city’s 10-10-10 plan was a debacle, not least of which is because it demonstrated that regulators had not talked to the businesses they were regulating. These ordinances are more promising. The council should be congratulated for setting aside rules and regulations that hamper growth and drive up costs without improving public safety, and should be encouraged to do so permanently. There is much more to do along these lines, but this is a good start. Slainte!