DALLAS - There's no question, Dallas residents love their al fresco dining.
Go to Katy Trail Icehouse on any fair-weathered day and you'll see dozens of customers drinking and eating in the outdoors. General manager Ben Ralston says the patio's one of the restaurant's biggest draws.
"This is one of the best known patios in the entire state," Ralston said. "We've added trees and really tried to create a unique feeling here."
Other restaurants have taken notice of the success of places like Katy Trail Icehouse and more and more have started opening patios in recent years. Now some neighbors say the parking codes haven't caught up with the new patio trend.
On Tuesday, city council members met with the public for a first discussion of changes to the parking code that would require new restaurants to accommodate parking for indoor and outdoor guests. The discussion has spurred some concern, leading to a trending hashtag, #SavethePatio.
The current regulation only bases parking requirements on indoor seating capacity and doesn't count outdoor. Ralston says that's because outdoor seating isn't usable in extreme heat and cold or during bad weather.
"If it's raining of 110 degrees, no one will sit outside," Ralston said. "This is an amenity and shouldn't be treated the same as indoor seating parking requirements."
Jade Graves lives in Lower Greenville, a neighborhood with several outdoor patio restaurants. She says parking can be tough but she knew that moving in.
"I love all the places I can walk to and sit outside," she said. "I have so many options. Patios are just ingrained in Dallas' culture."
City council member Phillip Kingston says Tuesday's meeting was the first time city leaders discussed the idea. He says the idea has a long way to go before it would become an ordinance.
"This is just an idea," he said. "It isn't even a formal proposal."
The councilman says he doesn't know how he feels about the idea and is looking to hear from the public during the meeting. He also questions whether the change would have enough impact since it would only restrict future restaurants and not change parking for existing restaurants like Katy Trail Icehouse.
"That's another thing to consider," Kingston said. "Is it worth it?"
As for the team at Katy Trail Icehouse, they say they planned to be at the meeting to let leaders know patios are in Dallas to stay.
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