HONOLULU (KHON2) — Outdoor dining on sidewalks, parklets and other public spaces became popular at the start of the pandemic. It was a major lifeline for restaurants when they were forced to close dining rooms.

The public space dining pilot program ended with the mayor’s emergency orders, but there is an appetite to bring back the pilot.

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A city bill is moving through the Honolulu City Council, which proposes another pilot program to allow restaurants to extend their dining space onto outdoor public spaces.

A Honolulu Department of Transportation official, Tony Valdez commented in favor of the bill, he said, “The department strongly supports the program but there are some things that are being worked out with other departments.”

Valdez told council members they are still negotiating logistics with other city departments. He said the transportation services department recommends $50 per application. He also said language to exempt the city from liability on the public space is still being sorted out.

The Surfing Pig Restaurant owner Stanley Glander said this pilot already worked for them when it was first introduced.

Glander said, “Restaurants, small businesses they have not recovered, and I think they need to give them every opportunity to go ahead and try to make the most of what they have now.”

Under the latest proposal, restaurants would be in charge of clearing up their dining furniture and keeping the sidewalks clean between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next morning. Restaurant operators should also keep at least 36 inches of space on sidewalks.

Glander said he supports reintroducing dining in public spaces, but he has changed his mind about parklets. The parklets are usually wooden structures with benches built-in. They usually sit on parking spaces. The parklets are open to the public, but Glander said it is attracting some unwanted activity.

Glander said, “There are people sleeping here and trash all over, and ultimately we’re responsible for trying to keep it clean.”

The Hawaii Restaurant Association Chairman Greg Maples said dining in public spaces is not suitable for all locations but supports having the option.

Maples said, “I think there’ll be people who will consider this that never had considered it during the emergency order. And so I think that’ll spur some more ideas. We’ve got a lot of very creative people right now.”

The city bill passed the third reading by the council’s housing and the economy committee on Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, the Kaimuki neighborhood board chair said they plan on bringing up the topic at Wednesday’s meeting.