Delray Beach cracks down on sidewalk cafes

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Navigating downtown Delray Beach if you're in a wheelchair has gotten harder and harder as the city has developed into a hub of activity.

One disabled veteran, Trey Kaufman, says he's tired of dodging chairs.

"It's pretty exhausting," said Kaufman. "Look at how tight it is in here."

He has multiple sclerosis and is paralyzed from the neck down.

There are often only inches between his chair, the curb, and the 75 restaurants that have permits for sidewalk seats.

Five feet of walking space is the rule.

"I love the sidewalk cafes," said Kaufman. "It's one of the reasons I live in downtown Delray. Just leave me some room."

He spoke up a last week's city commission meeting, which led code enforcement to go on a citation blitz.

Marc Woods gave out seven violations last week and new warnings Friday night to keep the city in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"A sidewalk cafe is a privilege the city allows restaurants that have extra room on the sidewalk," said Woods.

Since the code crackdown started a week ago, Kaufman has noticed improvement.

"I don't want to see people shut down," said Kaufman. "I just want to share the space."

Three violations could lead a restaurant to lose their sidewalk dining permit.

One restaurant owner said it was wrong for the city to go from zero to sixty on this, but he plans to comply.

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