Raleigh protesters bring their own patios to fight sidewalk ordinance
Posted September 22, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.