City of Asheville expands flexibility for business use of sidewalks, private lots

Press release from the City of Asheville:

The City of Asheville is committed to advancing ways of using space to support economic recovery and community needs while prioritizing public health and safety, and recognizes the importance of being flexible and nimble as needs and priorities evolve. In response to stakeholder input and public health guidance, the City is launching new initiatives to allow businesses and organizations to temporarily expand usage of outdoor spaces.

On May 22, the City began accepting requests from businesses and organizations to temporarily use up to 50% of private parking lots, landscape areas and walkways for merchandise display and sale and dining, provided that temporary outdoor expansion guidelines for these spaces are followed. Requests that fall within the guidelines are not subject to a formal permit application process. Click here to visit the online temporary outdoor expansion request form for private parking lots, landscape areas and walkways.

Today, the City will begin accepting requests from businesses and organizations to temporarily use the public sidewalk directly adjacent to their storefront for merchandise display and outdoor dining, provided that the sidewalk maintains 6 feet of clear space for pedestrian passageway and temporary outdoor expansion guidelines for public sidewalks are followed. Businesses and organizations temporarily using adjacent public sidewalk areas will be required to maintain a continuous accessible route that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Click here to visit the online temporary outdoor expansion request form for public sidewalks.

Guidelines for using private parking lots, landscape areas and walkways are different from those for using public sidewalks; for this reason, applicants must apply to use private and public spaces through separate online request forms. Call the Planner of the Day hotline at 828-259-5450 if you are unsure whether the space you are interested in using is public or private.

Both private and public space programs will be in effect until Saturday, Oct. 31, or until the City alters or ends the temporary outdoor expansion program. Changes to the program may also be made based on feedback and evolving needs.

Upon gaining City authorization, some businesses may be allowed to serve alcohol on temporarily extended premises in accordance with the North Carolina ABC Commission’s eligibility criteria and guidelines. North Carolina’s ABC’s temporary extension is currently valid during Phase 2 of Governor Cooper’s easing of restrictions.

In addition to the temporary outdoor expansion programs, the City is also offering the following accommodations to support local businesses and organizations:

The City will launch additional public space initiatives in the coming weeks to support Asheville’s recovery and enable social distancing. These initiatives will focus on creating shared streets and enabling the use of on-street parking spaces for dining and retail (aka “parklets”). This work is being informed by and will continue to be developed with public and business/stakeholder input. Please email requests and recommendations to Please click here to keep up to date on news and participation opportunities.

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