Sunday 24 September 2023

Outdoor commerce in all cantons seeks regulation proposal for municipalities

Most local governments still do not have regulations to apply legislation that seeks to boost the economy

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QCOSTARICA — A year has passed, the time local governments had to regulate the outdoor commerce law, and, most still do not have the approval of said regulations for businesses to take advantage of public spaces, such as sidewalk cafes, among others.

Cafe/Bistro in downtown San Jose. Photo from Facebook

For this reason, a regulation proposal was presented to a group of 20 municipalities, with the intention of expediting the process so that those who are up to date with their permits can extend their businesses on sidewalks, streets, parks and boulevards.

In its desire to achieve decarbonization of the Gran Área Metropolitana (GAM) – Greater Metropolitan Area – through political reforms and sustainable urban planning, the Transición hacia una Economía Verde y Urbana (TEVU) – Transition towards a Green and Urban Economy – project offers the bases to encourage municipalities in the area of open-air commerce.

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“We want the municipalities to take this proposal, break it down, understand it, edit it and you who are in the territory, analyze the feasibility of this. Here we have the theory with the practice, with the feasibility that they can do; We want it to be a regulation that is easy to apply, that there are not too many complications for it to really work,” said Miriam Miranda, director of the TEVU project.

Despite the fact that the proposal was worked with only 20 municipalities, the tool can be used by all of the 84 local governments across the country.

What does the proposed regulation propose?

Authorization will allow the placement of light furniture in public spaces and the development of commercial activity during the hours authorized by the municipality, which in most cases is until 10 p.m., in establishments selling non-alcoholic food and beverages.

On the other hand, authorization will be granted for a maximum period of one year and a new permit application can be submitted immediately.

In case of having authorization, the businesses must invest in improvement works for the public space, such as the sidewalks or lighting.

In addition, all the income generated by the authorization of outdoor trade must be used for the general improvement of the cantonal public space by local governments.

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“We look for safe, inclusive cities, for all people and for biodiversity, that is why we are very interested in public spaces, which are spaces where people not only come to relax, but where there is communal and social coexistence, which generates new projects in the communities,” added Miranda.

For the use of sidewalks, a minimum width of 1.20 continuous meters must be guaranteed to ensure pedestrian traffic, and light furniture must not obstruct the passage of pedestrians.

The amount to be paid for the right to use public spaces will be established according to the number of square meters of the area that will be used for commercial activity.

Proposal for regulation of the outdoor trade law

Prohibitions of the owners of the premises:

  • The development of permanent physical and infrastructure works
  • The total closure of cantonal roads or public spaces in areas that were not assigned in the respective authorization
  • Obstructing the freedom of movement and accessibility of people
  • The placement of advertising on furniture and in the public space authorized for outdoor trade
  • The use of sound equipment is prohibited on sidewalks, boulevards, cantonal public streets and squares or parks
  • Wiring for lighting elements on sidewalks, boulevards, parks or squares is prohibited.
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