Champaign council may raise cafe fees
CHAMPAIGN — City council members Tuesday night could enact changes to Champaign's outdoor cafe licensing program if they approve proposals brought to them by city officials.
The council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday (Jan. 17) at 7 p.m. in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.
The city of Champaign leases public space — usually along sidewalks — to businesses in the downtown and Campustown areas for extra seating. The program has been in place since 1997, and officials say it has brought a more lively environment to the business districts.
But they also acknowledge there are problems with the program. The fee structure is one concern; A flat rate of $100 per cafe is charged to each of the 23 businesses participating — plus an additional $150 if the business serves alcohol — regardless of the size of the cafe itself. Under the changes, the owner of each outdoor seating area would be charged based on the size of the cafe, at a rate of 50 cents per square foot.
The proposal would require property owners to keep the outdoor seating areas clean of debris or spills and to ensure that public walkways remain open.
The proposal would also permit live music in the public areas from 2 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.