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Outdoor Business Grant

Examples of outdoor business operations


Spaces as Places is the City of San Diego's program to allow outdoor dining and other community gathering spaces in the public right-of-way. As part of a pilot project started in 2023, the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department (EDD) will be providing grants up to $20,000 to eligible businesses following the Spaces as Places program guidelines for expanding business operations outdoors into the public right-of-way. EDD will be prioritizing businesses located in underserved communities for these grants. Grants may be awarded in phases, and can cover the costs of design, permitting and construction of projects.


The Outdoor Business Grant program supports businesses working to create outdoor dining spaces that contribute to the enjoyment of the public environment. It also seeks to prioritize projects in underserved communities.

Timeline and Funding Available

This grant is being offered as a pilot program through the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, 2023. It is partially funded through SB 1186 fees, which are intended to be deployed to “increase disability access, encourage compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements, develop education resources for businesses, and facilitate compliance with Federal and State disability laws.” Additional grant funds are being provided through the Small Business Enhancement Program. The total amount available for use in this pilot program is $300,000.

Eligible Use of Funds

This grant is for reimbursement of some or all expenses related to creating and installing a Sidewalk Cafe, Streetary, or Active Sidewalks project defined by the Spaces as Places program. 

Eligible expenses include City of San Diego permit fees, cost of drawings required for the permit application, cost of labor, and cost of materials. All contractors and vendors must have proper California licensing and City Business Tax Certificates as required by law. 

Funds must be spent exclusively at the application location. Funds cannot be used to purchase any insurances required by the Spaces as Places process.

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible, the applicant must be a commercial occupant of the subject property. The business must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be located in the City of San Diego; 
  • Have a valid City of San Diego Business Tax Certificate; 
  • Be independently owned and operated; 
  • Business ownership must have a primary business owner who is a San Diego County resident; and
  • Have a Development Services Department-issued Project Number or Right-of-Way Permit.

Applications are ineligible if any of the following characteristics are true about the business:

  • Any owners with 20% or more ownership stake have previously applied for this grant;
  • It has more than five locations; 
  • It is a chain or other multi-location restaurant group;
  • It is engaged in any illegal activity per local, state or federal regulations.


All applicants for the Outdoor Business Grant should expect to take the following steps to complete their projects:

  1. Review the PDF icon Spaces as Places Design Manual and the PDF icon Spaces as Places Streetary Checklist.
  2. Complete an initial grant application and work with staff as they review the feasibility and potential costs of the project.
  3. Create and assemble all permit drawings.
  4. Pay Right-of-Way, Neighborhood Use, and other building permit fees and submit for permits.
  5. Submit a Grant Expenses Report Form, including required documentation of expenses, IRS form W9, City Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Vendor Enrollment Payment Form and a voided check.
  6. The property owner must enter into an Encroachment Maintenance and Removal Agreement (EMRA) with the City of San Diego, including providing evidence of required insurances.
  7. Complete the construction and installation of all project elements.
  8. Submit another Grant Expenses Report Form, including required documentation of expenses.
  9. Maintain the project elements per the EMRA on file with DSD.

Reimbursement Amounts

Applicant businesses are eligible for reimbursement not to exceed $20,000, issued in phases as they are successfully completed, per the chart below. Businesses located within the San Diego Promise Zone boundaries, in low- and moderate-income areas, or owned by low- and moderate-income individuals are eligible for a larger grant amount (Category B) to help with the initial costs of permitting a Spaces As Places project.


Phase Description

Category A 

Maximum Reimbursement

Category B 

Maximum Reimbursement

Permitting – includes permit application and inspection fees $2,500 $5,000
Design – expenses paid to a design professional for research and drawings required to obtain required permits $2,500 $5,000
Construction – costs include labor and materials provided by properly licensed contractors and vendors. $10,000 $10,000


This application is open through June 2023. The application is available through SeamlessDocs. To optimize SeamlessDocs functionality, applicants should use Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari browsers.

Applicants will be asked to provide basic information about the property, business owner(s), proposed project elements, and project budget. Applications will require the upload of:

  • Proof of business owner’s residence, 
  • A photo of the street-facing front of the building, and 
  • Completed DSD PDF icon Form-318 Ownership Disclosure Statement, 
  • Applicants must agree to the program PDF icon Terms & Conditions.

The program administrator will contact applicants within seven (7) business days of application submission. Be sure to check your Spam inbox for any emails ending in “@sandiego.gov” if you do not receive communication within that time.

 Outdoor Business Grant Application