May 15, 2020

Hoboken to introduce comprehensive plan to assist small businesses

Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla and Council President Jen Giattino today introduced a comprehensive business recovery plan to reshape the utilization of streets and sidewalks in order to expand outdoor capacity for small businesses. The plan, which will be introduced as an ordinance to the City Council, permits businesses to expand outdoor space on the sidewalk, create shared spaces, and creates a framework for businesses to operate further into the street during scheduled road closures. With eventual re-opening guidelines from the State of New Jersey anticipated to include reductions in indoor capacity, the ordinance seeks to proactively maximize outdoor space for businesses and provide safe areas for customers.

“The ordinance we are putting forward today will ensure our small businesses can maximize outdoor space in a way that has never been done before in our City,” said Mayor Bhalla. “When the Governor eventually gives the green light for business to gradually re-open, we are committed to ensuring they can accommodate customers in the safest and most socially distant manner possible with expanded sidewalk cafes, shared spaces, and open streets. I’m grateful to Council President Giattino, Councilman DeFusco and the entire City Council for their partnership on this important initiative and to the various departments in City Hall who helped create this plan.”

“I will look to take every effort to provide our brick and mortar businesses with expanded spaces and opportunities to succeed after this pandemic and any ordinance that takes a step in the right direction to do that I will be supportive of,” said Council President Giattino.

"Hoboken's small businesses are the backbone of our community and they are going to need our help on the legislative to recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Councilman Mike DeFusco. "By working collaboratively with the City Council and the administration, we're committed to giving small businesses the resources they need to succeed and operate in the new era of social distancing."

The ordinance includes flexible provisions to facilitate an outdoor expansion by local businesses, and permits the following through an expedited approval process:

Sidewalk café expansion

  • Daily outdoor sidewalk cafes can extend hours of operation by one hour on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays
  • Sidewalk cafes can expand, so long as six feet of sidewalk width is maintained
  • Businesses can expand outdoor cafes to adjacent properties with the neighboring property owner’s consent
  • Tables in sidewalk cafe must be 6 feet apart measured from backs of opposite chairs to promote social distancing

Streatery: new outdoor shared spaces

  • Daily outdoor, shared public space that temporarily converts curbside parking spaces for outdoor dining where take-away food and beverages can be consumed
  • Dining space separated from adjacent parking and travel lane using moveable safety barriers such as barricades, planters, bollards, or similar structures
  • Tables in streatery must be 6 feet apart measured from backs of opposite chairs to promote social distancing

Parklets: new outdoor shared spaces

  • Seasonal public seating platform that temporarily converts curbside parking into a mini-park as an extension of the sidewalk
  • Semi-public parklet built in partnership between the city and a specific local business
  • Enclosed from adjacent parking spaces and travel lane using built-in safety barriers such as planters, bench, wall, railings, bollards
  • Six feet of separation to be maintained between tables in a parklet (or streatery) to promote social distancing

Open streets for businesses and pedestrians

  • Permits certain City streets to close for three contiguous blocks, to facilitate outdoor retail and dining with tables and chairs in the street in a socially distanced setup
  • Initially proposed for Sundays and Thursday evenings, schedule may change
  • Designed to expand outdoor seating capacity for businesses with additional space, as opposed to congregating or a “block party”
  • City facilitates road closures through expedited event approval process
  • Open streets plan builds off pilot open streets on Jefferson Street and Adams Street to facilitate additional socially distanced space for pedestrians for biking, walking and jogging  

Expanded retail use of sidewalks

  • Retail businesses and services can use the area in front of their stores to display merchandise during business hours
  • Permits outdoor signage that was previously prohibited

Flexibility and waiving of fees

  • Options for expanding outdoor capacity are flexible to accommodate different locations and types of businesses
  • Application process will provide general design guidelines for sidewalk cafés, streateries, and parklets; each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis
  • Sidewalk café fee waived for 2020
  • City is exploring various options with the Hoboken Business Alliance and other groups to help subsidize the cost of the streateries, parklets, and open streets

“I am very hopeful and confident the City will take care of small businesses and do everything in their power to help us through measures like this ordinance, which has my full support,” said Grace Sciancalepore, co-chair of the City’s Economic Recovery Task Force.

“The Hoboken Business Alliance is thrilled to see the City offering options to businesses across Hoboken and we want to continue to support these and other efforts to see businesses open as soon as possible, but safely,” said Greg Dell’Aquila, President of the Hoboken Business Alliance. “The HBA wants businesses to come back as successfully as possible, and fully supports the introduced ordinance.”