Temporary Outdoor Sales in Downtown Geneva
Requests to the City for permission to conduct temporary outdoor sales in the downtown shopping district have increased over the past five years beyond sidewalk sales and the five community festivals (Swedish Days, Geneva Fine Arts, Concours d ‘Elegance, Festival of the Vine, and Christmas Walk). The City’s zoning regulations don’t allow outdoor sales on private or public right-of-way (sidewalks, streets, parkways, and public parking lots) without permission from the City Council. Further, the zoning code doesn’t outline standards on how sales are to be conducted when permission is granted.
The City Council has indicated they believe temporary outdoor sales should be are allowed because they engage pedestrians, help create a vibrant shopping environment, and provide selling opportunities for merchants. The city code needs to provide a workable set of standards for temporary outdoor sales.
A kick off meeting was hosted by the City on July 17, 2013. A video of the meeting is found here: http://thor.geneva.il.us:8080/video/misc/OutdoorSales-2013-0717.wmv. Additional public meetings will be held before this item goes before City Council again for deliberation.
The city council goals for downtown include: preservation of downtown’s historic character, maintenance of its traditional development pattern, strengthening of its role as the city’s business center, promotion of its unique shopping environment, protection of the open front yards along third Street, and sales tax revenue growth. At Council’s direction, City staff is collecting opinions and will recommend an update to the zoning code to allow temporary outdoor sales. The goals should provide direction on how outdoor sales are managed. This may be different during Festival time and non-Festival time, and might be handled differently on private property than on public property.
Concerns with outdoor sales include overcrowding along sidewalks (and the need to maintain a 5 foot clear path for pedestrians), damage to public improvements, cluttered appearance of sales canopies and booths, disruption of brick and mortar businesses, unfair business competition, and businesses not paying retail sales taxes or the chamber of commerce festival sponsorship fee.
What are your thoughts on temporary outdoor sales? What, if any, rules should be established for temporary outdoor sales? Would you please provide input on these 4 options?