The City of Seattle has extended free Street Use permits for businesses through Oct. 2021!

Outdoor dining in Columbia City. Photo Credit: Jeanne Clark.

Summary

  • Our temporary Street Use permits are extended through October 2021! 
  • We at SDOT will continue to issue free sidewalk café and curb space permits as well as free street closure permits through October 31, 2021. 
  • The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) will immediately begin issuing free tent permits and heating permits to help businesses maintain outdoor operations during the COVID-19 pandemic in the colder, rainier months ahead. 
  • This is another example of how we at SDOT are nimbly and efficiently using all the tools we can to support the critical small businesses and restaurants that make Seattle so special.   

Our temporary Street Use permits are extended through October 31, 2021!  

Covered dining spaces on 6th Avenue. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.. 

This extension impacts free sidewalk café and curb space permits as well as free street closure permits. These free permits allow small businesses to expand their operations outside to help ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while remaining in compliance with local and statewide public health guidance and requirements.  

“The COVID-19 crisis and resulting economic devastation has caused so many of our small businesses to face the potential of closing their doors forever. For many of our small businesses, the ability to operate outside – even at a limited capacity – provides a much-needed lifeline during these challenging times. At the City, we’re committed to helping our small businesses safely and feasibly reopen and sustain operations even as it gets rainy and cold. That’s why we’re extending our free street use permits for over a year, and reducing barriers to access so small businesses can stay open outside in a way that’s safe and comfortable for their customers.”  – Mayor Jenny Durkan

The free sidewalk café and curb space permits allow restaurants, retail stores, vending trucks and carts to operate in the sidewalk or curb space while the free street closure permits allow businesses to operate in one or more blocks in front of their business. 

Covered dining space. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.

To date, we’ve issued 151 free Street Use permits, including 11 blocks that have been opened for small businesses in neighborhoods across Seattle.  

As part of the permitting process for a street closure, applicants need to notify and demonstrate support from neighboring businesses and residents of proposed open streets for businesses. While typical permit costs are waived, applicants are responsible for any expenses related to the street closure proposal – such as barricades, temporary no parking signs, and tables and chairs. Applicants will be required to adhere to all relevant state and local public health guidance. For more information, including how to schedule an applicant coaching session, please visit our website or e-mail publicspace@seattle.gov

The permits have received significant support from the community, including nearby businesses. 


Here’s some of what we’ve heard:

“Extending street permits for dining until next fall will help us by accommodating more diners through the winter months and into next spring and summer. The Mayor has continued to listen to small business owners and implement much needed changes to help Seattle restaurants keep employees and customers safe, and financially survive the pandemic.” – Linda Morton, President of Seattle Restaurant Alliance

“The street eatery permits have been a huge help in staying afloat for us and fellow restauranteurs. Even with colder weather arriving, knowing that these permits will be available to us without interruption relieves a lot of anxiety about planning, and gives us the ability to adapt to customer seating preferences through the next year.” – Charlie Anthe & Rumi Ohnui, owners of Moshi Moshi in Ballard

“This is great news, now we can really put our energy and resources into making our outside dining space a true extension of our interior dining room. I am so excited to be able to treat our guests to the safety and peace of mind that comes with dining in the open air while enjoying the classic mamnoon experience.” – Jen Kligerman, General Manager, mamnoon on Capitol Hill

“Being able to dine at an outdoor café or browse merchandise displays on the sidewalk is great for residents and businesses alike. These programs can only be successful, however, if businesses provide a safe, straightforward pathway for all pedestrians to continue to access sidewalks.” – Marci Carpenter of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington


The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) will immediately begin issuing free, 90-day tent permits and free heating permits to help small businesses continue their operations outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic in the colder, rainier months ahead. 

All free tent permits must align with SFD regulations, including complying with the fire code. Refunds will also be provided for tent permits issued since July 1, 2020, when the purpose was to move a business or service outside given public health restrictions on indoor use. The permits are limited to 90-days due to the need for frequent inspection to maintain compliance with building and fire codes.  Permittees who already paid for a heating permit since July 1, 2020, will be refunded. Refunds may take up to six-eight weeks to be issued by the City. 

While outdoor dining equipment can now remain outside 24/7, the City recommends that business owners bring their equipment inside during a severe weather event.  

Interested applicants can review this flyer and contact permits@seattle.gov for more information or questions about a refund.  

We’ve also created winter weather guidelines for all equipment a small business owner may need to operate outside during the coming months. Business owners can review this flyer with more information.  

This is another example of how we at SDOT are nimbly and efficiently using all the tools we can to support critical small businesses and restaurants – as well as our entire community – which make Seattle so special.  

All types of bikes on a Stay Healthy Street in Seattle. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve reimagined how to use the public right-of-way to create opportunities and tools to support our City’s small businesses. We got an overwhelmingly positive response from both residents and businesses for our temporary street café and retail permit options. By extending the duration of the permits and publishing winter weather guidance for permit holders, we’re providing certainty for our small businesses so they can rely on these tools year round.” Seattle Department of Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe

This commitment is part of our continued efforts to support our entire community through – and despite – the global COVID-19 pandemic, economic challenges, and more.  

(Other examples include: our Stay Healthy Streets and Blocks, Keep Moving Streets, work to Reconnect West Seattle through the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, as well as many other projects which you can read about more on our blog!) 

The City continues to develop creative new policies to help small business owners operate outside in a way that’s comfortable, safe, and healthy for their customers. There will be more information on new initiatives in the coming weeks.  

Read more about our temporary permits: