San Diego

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Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit

The Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit supports the recovery of businesses devastated by economic impacts from COVID-19 by helping businesses with limited footprints operate in outdoor settings adjacent to their businesses and get closer to the sunshine. The goal is to help dining and retail outlets with space constraints expand operations outdoors so they can cost-effectively implement safety, health and distancing protocols.

This permit allows for the temporary use of a street, sidewalk or parking lane for business.


Traffic barricades indicating a closed street in downtown San Diego


A dining table and chairs on the sidewalk outside a restaurant

Parking Lane

Temporary outdoor dining on a parking lane in downtown San Diego

Note: Most operations conducted within private properties - including privately-owned parking lots - are NOT required to obtain this permit.

  • Other City permits may be required if tents or structures are constructed or placed to support operations.
  • Unless the City Council votes on an extension, permits for all restaurants expire on Aug. 3, 2021, and other business services on Sept. 14, 2021. 

Who Can Apply

The following businesses with an active business tax certificate and all other applicable license or permits may apply:

  • Eating and drinking establishments
  • Retail and wholesale businesses
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Instructional studios
  • Personal services, including hair and nail salons
  • Massage establishments
  • Religious assembly

Plan Your Project

The permit temporarily allows for the expansion of outdoor dining and retail on to the public right-of-way, private parking lots or public spaces. Please note, most operations conducted within private properties - including privately-owned parking lots- are not required to obtain this permit. Other City permits may be needed if tents or structures are constructed or placed to support operations.

Issuance of the temporary permit is subject to new guidelines or mandates for public gatherings and social distancing in accordance with the County of San Diego public health orders and instructions from the California Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As with all guidance that relates to COVID-19 response, permit requirements will be regularly evaluated or updated to respond to any changes to ensure public health and safety.

Interactive Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Locations Map

Screen shot of Interactive Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Locations Map

The Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Locations Map shows:

  • If your location is within a Business Improvement District;
  • Temporary Outdoor Business Permit locations;
  • Street closures; and 
  • Additional resources to research your application.

Visit the map frequently to view the latest updates.


All permitted locations may be inspected.

Permitted Hours and Days of Operation

Outdoor operations may occur during normal business hours, according to San Diego Municipal Code and other state and local requirements. 


All applications will be considered. However, a permit may not be granted in areas where there is current or planned work in the public right-of-way, transit services or does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.  Questions? Ask an ADA expert. 

Permit Length

The interim urgency ordinance enacts temporary changes to the San Diego Municipal Code that allow applicants to operate temporarily on the public rights-of-way until social distancing and federal, state and local mandates expire or are waived.

Examples of Compliant Outdoor Expansion

View Photo Gallery of Compliant Outdoor Expansion

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

View other PDF icon Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit FAQs

Please continue if you are applying for the temporary use of a street, sidewalk or parking lane.

You do NOT need to apply for a permit to conduct business outdoors on private property, including privately-owned parking lots.

Does your proposal include the use of a platform?

NOTE: Platforms are NOT required to conduct business outdoors.

Do you have a Right-of-Way permit for the use of a platform?

If No, you will be directed to the Right-of-Way permit page. A Right-of-Way permit must be obtained before applying for a Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit. A Right-of-Way permit costs on average about $2,000. A Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit without a platform is free.

How to Modify A Permit

Add a deck or platform

Step 1

Request to Modify Your Permit

  • Simple Deck/Platform: Use PDF icon City Engineer pre-approved specifications with no additional architectural or engineering services to apply for a new Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit or amend an existing one.   
  • Custom Deck/Platform: Submitted permit drawings must be signed and stamped by a responsible design professional such as a registered Civil or Structural Engineer licensed in the State of California.

Submit a Request to Modify Your Permit

Step 2

Get an Inspection

Once your permit modification is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule a field inspection. Before making use of the approved, deck, platform, heater, tent or awning, you must schedule an inspection. Updates to existing permits require inspections at least 24-hours prior to being implemented.

Add heaters, tents or awnings

For tents or temporary structures covering more than 400 square feet, email a completed PDF icon Fire-Rescue Department special event permit application, along with dimensioned floor and/or site plans and any other supporting documentation, to sdfdevents@sandiego.gov.

The Fire-Rescue Department will waive permit application and late fees.

Additional Resources




Guidelines: Americans With Disabilities Act 

Guidelines: Enclosures

    Guidelines for Outdoor Businesses:

    Guidelines: Special Events

    • PDF icon Special Event Planning Guide: The guide provides direction on special event management in the City of San Diego. This is an indispensable reference guide to develop your event plans and complete your permit application.

    Operations Requiring a Fire-Rescue Department Permit

    Other Resources

    • Resource Map: This map shows if your location is within a Business Improvement District, Temporary Outdoor Business Permit and street closure locations, and more resources to research your application. Visit the map frequently to view the latest updates.