The current number one priority at Portland’s transportation bureau is a permit program that aims to help restaurants spread into the street so they can serve more people safely. The Healthy Business program is part of a larger Safe Streets Initiative that’s altering public right-of-way to improve safety and create more space for physically-distanced commerce.
By some accounts the program is working well. Since it was launched at the end of May, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) says they’ve issued well over 200 permits so far and rave reviews are coming in for the street dining plazas.
But is the program working for everyone? Are Black-owned businesses getting a fair shot? And is PBOT’s execution of the program living up to their pledge to be antiracist?