City eases outdoor dining permits to cafes, restaurants

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


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Malia
Member
Malia

My concern is for people with mobility and sight impairment issues . It will be difficult and perhaps impossible for wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, guide animals, etc. to negotiate around tables, chairs, people sitting and standing on sidewalk space. There are so many stationary obstacles already, this will make things worse. Will SDOT close streets in front of these sidewalks too? Or will people walking/passing by be forced into traffic? Otherwise it will be hard to socially distance from each other.

By the way, Dan Strauss does not respond to emails or voice messages left by his constituents, so I can’t get any questions or concerns addressed that way.

Pork Pie
Member
Pork Pie

Luckily a sidewalk cafe-saturated place like Paris has literally NO blind or mobility-impaired residents because if they did the whole thing would come to a screaming halt, wouldn’t it?

Where is Dan Strauss hiding?
Member
Where is Dan Strauss hiding?

No doubt!

And what about midgets? Will the outdoor chairs low enough? Or are the tables will be too high for the height-impaired? Should restaurants be forced to give midgets kids’ menus?

I say ban everything until the midgets are 100% happy.

Paintking
Member
Paintking

I love the way U think. The only thing worse than insensitivity is HYPER-sensitivity. Although, you just angered the entire midget community, and the protests will soon follow.

terryj
Member
terryj

small people

Where is Dan Strauss hiding?
Member
Where is Dan Strauss hiding?

Dwarf?

Paintking
Member
Paintking

Seriously? Then what about tents, their residents + bikes? Are they a bother? Why is it you intentionally left them out of your equation? Perhaps due to your feelings and prior votes your feelings got in the way of critical mass?

terryj
Member
terryj

oh, if life were fair

coryclassic
Member
coryclassic

“most will likely go through quickly.”

Seattle government to English translation = a small select group of business with city hall connections will get permits by Christmas.

Paintking
Member
Paintking

Nobody “waited” to riot and loot. They had NO permits. Here in Durkanville it seems just about anything goes. But isn’t SHE so wonderful to expedite things. Perhaps next she’ll clean up the mess on Capital Hill too, restoring IT to all residents, not just a handful of thugs. A stop sign to me is now a mere suggestion :)

Pork Pie
Member
Pork Pie

I urge you to disregard that sign. Roll on out there into the intersection and get t-boned by a truck, preferably at a high rate of speed. We’ll remember you and the fact you were never a sheep. I promise!

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