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This Spring, Streets Department Pruning Unregistered Outdoor Cafes

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Flowers aren't the only things that blossom with the arrival of spring.  Philadelphia officials say the sidewalks bloom with tables and chairs -- set out by cafes and restaurants, often without approval.

It's a rite of spring for Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. She has inspectors out each time the weather warms to better police the cafes that decide to offer sidewalk dining, but never get permission.

"Most of them are eateries that are putting out tables and chairs. And sometimes they will put them on both sides of the sidewalk. And at times, they will have them along the curb line in a manner that may not be safe for those who are dining."

Tolson says it's also a concern for pedestrians, "Having the furniture without permit in the walkway prevents pedestrians from navigating the sidewalks safely. Sometimes it will force pedestrians into the roadway, and we don't want to do that."

So Tolson is putting out the word to businesses that have done or to plan to do so soon to obtain a city outdoor café license. And she asks pedestrians who are concerned about potential safety problems related to outdoor dining to call in the location to 311.

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