Local News

Raleigh protesters bring their own patios to fight sidewalk ordinance

Posted September 22, 2015

— One small group has taken their disapproval of Raleigh’s new sidewalk ordinance one step further than most with a movement they’re calling BYOP, or bring your own patio.

Just a handful of people are involved but they’re hoping to start a movement. Meanwhile, the city is sending out a warning to anybody else who is thinking about doing this.

Cafe De los Muertos is a favorite spot for Paul Middleton. Recently, the outside tables and chairs disappeared because café De los Muertos didn’t have a permit to satisfy Raleigh’s new sidewalk ordinance. Middleton and a few friends decided that they wanted patio space anyway, so they created their own with bright green chairs and tables.

“I just bring it out every day and I bring an extra table and chair just in case anyone wants to sit out here,” said Middleton.

Businesses that have been approved for patio space must follow guidelines.

“I think they’re a little out of touch with what’s actually going on in the city,” said Middleton. “People are enjoying this area. They flock out here, so it’s a great way to just say ‘hey, we’re going to do it anyway’.”

City councilwoman Mary-Anne Baldwin said that Middleton’s decision is one that could carry consequences.

“The law on the books is that you can’t encroach on sidewalks without a permit,” said Baldwin. “We build Raleigh as a city of innovation and creativity. It’s creative, but it’s also illegal so while part of that is humorous, it’s also serious.”

Baldwin admits that she thinks the new ordinance is too far reaching.

“I did not vote for the ordinance as it was put forward,” Baldwin said. “On the other hand, I do recognize that we do need to have some rules in place.”

Despite the risks, Middleton said that he plans to stay as long as it takes to keep the conversation going about open spaces in Raleigh.

Baldwin said that the city will take another look at the ordinance in November and vote on whether to make changes.


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  • Stephen Downey Sep 23, 2015
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    Hey look the city said ya this does need to be looked at and will be our next session, so why don't you go ahead and be a as s hat and protest something that the people your protesting to have already agreed to look at.

  • Jackson Smith Sep 23, 2015
    user avatar

    So a business can get a permit and then put tables and chairs on the sidewalk that the city built and maintains with TAX dollars. How much do they pay the city per sq foot for use of this city resource. I TRIED to walk down Glenwood but could not due to the tables and chairs and people standing in the sidewalk. If someone wants to use city property on a daily basis, they should pay. Maybe the city should pay the rent for their restaurants since they must bring in so much money to the city. If you want to use it, pay for it

  • Doug Hanthorn Sep 23, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Hey then. Let's get rid of speed limits. Let's let cars drive on the sidewalks. Let's all do whatever the heck we want.

  • Todd Wright Sep 23, 2015
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    Exactly, the sidewalks were built for people to walk on, not as an extension of the business.

  • Todd Wright Sep 23, 2015
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    This is the very definition of first world problems. How dare I not be able to drink my $7 iced coffee anywhere I want. Such a joke.

  • Joseph Wilkins Sep 23, 2015
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    Maybe I should not have to walk in the street to get around everyone sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. The problem is not during the day, its at night when the entire sidewalk is blocked.

  • Dean Logan Sep 23, 2015
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    Did someone suggest voting out the city council to these squatters?

  • Denise Tyler Sep 23, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    Most people don't these days.

  • Matt Nickeson Sep 23, 2015
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    I find it funny how many people obviously didn't read anything in this article beyond the headline.

  • Steven Shannon Sep 23, 2015
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    Just make sure you get off your lime green chair and vote on October 7, otherwise this is nothing more than a cute little stunt.