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.
The following businesses with an active business tax certificate and all other applicable license or permits may apply:
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.
The Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Locations Map shows:
Visit the map frequently to view the latest updates.
All permitted locations may be inspected.
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.
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.
Download and complete two forms below:
You will be required to upload the completed documents from Step 2.
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.
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.
For tents or temporary structures covering more than 400 square feet, email a completed Fire-Rescue Department special event permit application, along with dimensioned floor and/or site plans and any other supporting documentation, to email@example.com. Learn about the use of tents and temporary structures for outdoor dining, beverage service and events.
The Fire-Rescue Department will waive permit applications and late fees.
To assist small businesses with adapting operations amid COVID-19, the City of San Diego is offering grants up to $3,000 to businesses constructing outdoor decks and platforms compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Compliant Outdoor Expansion
Guidelines: Americans With Disabilities Act
Guidelines for Outdoor Businesses:
Guidelines: Special Events
Operations Requiring a Fire-Rescue Department Permit
Outdoor assembly of 50 or more people within a fenced area (example: a fenced parking lot for temporary outdoor dining).
Temporary membrane structures and tents with an area in excess of 400 square feet (example: a tented parking lot for temporary outdoor dining).
A completed Fire-Rescue Department special event permit application, along with dimensioned floor and/or site plans and any other supporting documentation, can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fire-Rescue Department will waive permit applications and late fees.
All eating and drinking establishments, including restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, coffee shops, bars, taverns, brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms and other similar places of public accommodations offering food, beverages or alcoholic beverages for on‐premises consumption are eligible.
All retail establishments, including the sale of food, beverages, groceries, building supplies, equipment, consumer goods, furniture, appliances, pet supplies, sundries, apparel and convenience sales, are eligible.
Gyms and fitness centers, instructional studios, personal services, including hair and nail salons, massage establishments, and religious assembly are also eligible.
All existing rules and regulations still apply to food trucks and other mobile food establishments. While this program doesn't apply to these, they can continue operating and serving to‐go food while following recommended guidelines for social distancing, sanitary and hygiene practices.
It is anticipated that businesses will be able to use the temporary outdoor space as long as the County public health order requires social distancing. Special Event Permits for complete street closures will expire at the end of the year.
Sunday through Thursday, outdoor business operations are required to close by 10 p.m. Friday, and Saturday outdoor business operations are required to close by 11 p.m. These hours apply to the new, temporary outdoor business expansions only. Existing permanent patios may have different hours that were allowed by separate permits.
In most cases, yes. The outdoor area may include temporary tables, benches, chairs, and shade devices, as well as temporary railings and other means of containment and separation between patrons and the public. All furnishings and lighting must be easily removed at the end of the ordinance.
No, outdoor patios established or expanded under this program can only be used for sit‐down dining, customer pick‐up, carry‐out service or retail sales.
They cannot be used for "standing areas," as these would promote congregating. They cannot be used for yard games or other similar activities that would encourage people to congregate or share equipment. Businesses cannot offer entertainment on their temporary outdoor patios, including but not limited to live entertainment, outdoor games, amplified sound or entertainment such as music over speakers, movies or broadcast sports, or loudspeaker call systems.
These restrictions apply to the new, temporary outdoor business expansions only. Existing permanent patios may have different allowances that were a part of separate permit approvals.
The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control is allowing additional sale areas through a Temporary Catering Authorization. Please visit abc.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/forms/ABC218CV19.pdf.
BIDs, commercial centers, owners, and businesses can apply jointly for permits. Businesses are encouraged to work with property owners and neighboring businesses to ensure multiple establishments are not applying for the same physical space. Likewise, establishments must coordinate when requesting complete street closures. However, businesses may not share outdoor space and must maintain control of all operations and food and beverage service within their outdoor premises.
Residents can call 619-236-5500 or visit sandiego.gov/ced to report concerns about how an expanded patio space is operating. The City's Code Enforcement Division will investigate complaints received from the public about the location or operation of an outdoor area. If an inspector finds a violation of these guidelines, or any other applicable provision of San Diego municipal codes, the eligible business and property owner will be responsible for resolving the issue and paying any enforcement‐related fines or penalties.
Please see the County of San Diego's guidelines for safe reopening. The website provides detailed industry guidance for many different business types.
Outbreak trends suggest risk outdoors may be lower. However, this does not diminish the need for
physical distancing and continued use of face coverings. People from different households are discouraged from dining together to reduce the risk of transmission. Outdoor seating and congregating should follow the same guidelines as indoor dining, to the extent possible, including tables adequately spaced.
Requirements may evolve to reflect new public health guidelines, and the City can revoke this temporary program and associated approvals at any time, mainly if there is an increase in COVID‐19 cases tied to any of these locations.
Permits for expansion onto a sidewalk or parking lane of the street are obtained online at sandiego.gov/DSD. All permits will require the following documents that will be made available on the program website.
A permit is not required for expansion onto a private parking lot. However, there are still disabled access and other requirements that need to be considered by businesses.
If your business is located within a Business Improvement District, then please contact your Business Improvement District for their requirements. You can find contact information for Business improvement Districts here: sandiego.gov/economic-development/resources/bidorgs.
This is a helpful planning guide if you are planning to close a complete street: sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/specialevents/pdf/planningguide.pdf.
This is the application for a Special Event Permit to close a complete street: sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/specialevents/pdf/application.pdf.
This is an agreement to allow for the business expansion or encroachment into the public right-of-way, including the sidewalk and/or street parking lane. The agreement makes the applicant responsible for maintenance and for removal. The agreement requires liability insurance.
City staff will review permits for expansion onto a sidewalk or street parking lane for a completely filled-out General Application, completely filled-out Temporary Outdoor Business Expansion Agreement, that a 4-foot clear path for pedestrians is provided through the expansion area, and that a proper barricade is provided for expansions into the street parking lane.
First, applicants will submit an application for the permit to expand onto a sidewalk or street parking lane. Second, Development Services staff will review the application and other submitted items. Third, the permit will be issued. Fourth, a City inspection will occur. Last, the business will be able to utilize the new temporary outdoor expansion area.
There may be planned construction that may impact a business's ability to expand outdoors. The Development Services Department may be reviewing work that may already be moving through city processes, and that would take priority over a newly received request for temporary outdoor business expansion. However, both may be accommodated, depending on the proposal and timing of the closures.
Yes, with approval from the adjacent business and/or property owner.
No, this is not allowed because it will make performing contact tracing very difficult. Businesses must maintain control of all operations and food and beverage service within their outdoor premises.
No. Parking requirements for existing buildings are being waived. Parking for the disabled should not be removed or access to the spots blocked. If you remove accessible parking spaces, then you must replace those spaces elsewhere.
Canopies or umbrellas may be used in conjunction with an outdoor business expansion but shall not be used as a permanent roof or shelter.