More restaurants and cafes around the city could be offering outdoor dining, thanks to a more simplified—and free—permitting process.
Mayor Jenny Durkan has approved legislation to make new, temporary SDOT street use permits free to all applicants. The permits will allow restaurants, retail stores, vending trucks, and carts to operate on sidewalks or curb spaces in front of their business.
The legislation is cosponsored by Councilmember Dan Strauss, who recently announced his idea to make Ballard Ave a cafe street. While the cafe street plan is still a possibility, easing outdoor dining permits is one step in that direction.
The free permit options will be available for up to six months, and SDOT is expediting applications by requiring public notice, rather than the standard two-week public comment period. Review time may be necessary for certain sites, but most will likely go through quickly.
Here are the free permits available:
- Temporary Outdoor Café Permit: A business owner should request this permit if they are a restaurant owner who would like seating on the sidewalk or in the curb space parking. An additional permit from Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will be required to serve alcohol.
- Temporary Merchandise Display Permit: A business owner should request this permit if they are a retail business owner who would like to expand operations outside into the sidewalk or in the curb space parking (note that this includes the point of sale).
- Temporary Vending Permits: A business owner should request this permit if they are a vendor who would like more flexibility on their vending location and duration. This includes street and sidewalk locations for food trucks and carts.
“Sidewalk cafes are an example of responsive government. This idea came straight from the small business community that they felt would aid in their recovery,” Strauss said in a statement about the legislation. “Sidewalk cafes are a creative public health strategy, a necessary step to help our businesses survive the economic impacts of COVID-19, and an example of how we can better utilize our existing pedestrian spaces.”
Photo: Joann Natalia Aquino/Courtesy of La Carta de Oaxaca