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COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) information and resources

COVID-19 Temporary Outdoor Services: Dining, Retail & Salons

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Free, temporary permits to use the sidewalk or parking lane for business operations, like seating, dining, or personal care services.

Permits are valid until November 1, 2021.

All businesses are required to post a Site-Specific Protection Plan and adhere to the industry-specific requirements outlined in the Marin County public health orders.

**NEW** Installation of Semi-Permanent Structures in the Parking Lane

  • Semi-permanent structures in the parking lane will be permitted through November 1, 2021
  • Businesses are responsible for costs of construction of all semi-permanent structures
  • Follow City of San Francisco’s Design Guidelines for using the sidewalk or parking lane for your business.
    • See section “Enclosure” for covered, winterized operations
    • See section “Platform” for installation of a patio deck above the street surface
  • To apply for the installation of a semi-permanent structures in the parking lane
    • Fill out form below and select “Public Property” & “Public Parking Spaces”
    • Upload a proposed construction design/rendering in “Site Plan”
    • If you already have an existing permit for use of your parking lane but intend to build a new, semi-permanent structure, please re-apply in the application below.


Tents and Membrane Structures are permitted in outdoor dining spaces. Any tents with walls that have an area > 400 sq. ft., or without walls that have an area > 700 sq. ft. require an additional permit from the Fire Department. Please note: the cost of a tent permit from the Fire Department is $240.

You may set up a tent with walls with an area < 400 sq. ft., or without walls with an area < 700 sq. ft without a permit from the Fire Department.

Common standards (See specific standards listed in three categories below)

  • A minimum, unobstructed width of four (4) feet must be permanently maintained for public pedestrian passage. Furnishings and merchandise shall not be placed in a manner that obstructs access to this pedestrian passage.
  • Do not block visibility for required street signs, crosswalks, and intersections.
  • Movable racks and furniture must be adequately secured, so that they do not roll or are easily tipped over.
  • Maintain the area free from litter and infestation from pests.
  • Storm drain must be kept clear.
  • All building exits and exit pathways must be kept clear.
  • Access to building fire protection equipment (PIV, FDC, Riser) and sidewalk fire hydrants must be kept clear.
  • All electrical outside must utilize heavy duty extension cords plugged into GFCI receptacles. Cords cannot be in an area subject to damage or creating a trip hazard. Cords cannot be hung overhead by themselves unless supported by other means (e.g. attached to a cable). Any change in elevation to facilitate electrical on the ground must meet ADA standards.
  • No stacking of furnishings in outdoor areas.
  • A fire extinguisher inside the building must be quickly accessible.
  • Open flame (such as candles) is not permitted.
  • For salons, the use of a tent, canopy, or sun shade is required, with no more than one side that may be closed
  • Guidelines on installation of a tent and other winterization of outdoor operations

Description: Public sidewalks are adjacent to public streets. Public plazas include the Court Street Plaza and Lauren’s Place.

Specific Standards: In addition to the common standards listed above, the following standards apply to a Use of Public Sidewalks and Plazas:

  • Dining and retail activity and merchandise display area must be limited to the street frontage width of the business.

No fees will be charged for this permit. This permit is valid subject to City or County (Public Health) guideline changes.

Reviewed on a case by case basis, no fee.

Description: Public parking spaces are all parking on public streets, such as 4th Street. At this time we are not allowing the use of parking spaces within public City parking lots.

Specific Standards: In addition to the common standards listed above, the following standards apply to a Use of Public Parking Spaces

  • Restaurants must maintain at least one sidewalk seating, or one of the seatings in the parking space for ADA access. Parking space ADA seatings must include the installation of a temporary ramp from the curb to the parking space.
  • Retail must offer associate assistance to ADA customers for any retail on display in the parking space.
  • Traffic control (traffic cones, posts) must be at least 28″ tall, meet MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) standards and placed at the edges of the parking space. Traffic control must include reflection if parking space is to be utilized at night. A secondary barrier (traffic cones, planter boxes, posts with rope, etc.) must be placed 2ft in from the external barrier — maintaining a 2ft buffer between customers and vehicle traffic at all times.
  • Patio umbrellas may be used in the parking space. Any tent or canopy used where an enclosure is created should have a State Fire Marshall seal or flame certification. Umbrellas or shade structures may not intrude beyond the inner barrier of the 2ft buffer zone, and they may not interfere with driver or pedestrian visibility of store signage, street signs, or traffic signals.
  • Enclosed propane heaters are allowed in the parking space, however must be placed as far away from traffic as possible.

COVID-19 use of parking spaces for dining

In their application, businesses may request to utilize any parking spaces fully within their store frontage. Parking spaces partially within a businesses’ storefront can be requested for outdoor dining on a case by case basis. No spaces other than those fully or partially in front of  business will be made available for use under this permit. 

Note: Table and chair placements in the diagram are just a suggestion. Restaurants and retailers have discretion over where to place furnishings and merchandise within the parking spaces and sidewalk so long as they are adhering to County health guidelines.

No fees will be charged for this permit. This permit is valid subject to City or County (Public Health) guideline changes.

Application requires staff review on a case by case basis prior to approval. No fee will be charged with permit.

Description: Any sidewalks, plazas or parking lots located on private property, including any that are part of a mall.

Prior to Filing Application: Prior to filing an application, please contact your landlord (the property owner) and confirm their agreement for your plan to use parts of the parking lot and exterior of the building for this temporary use. City approval of the temporary outdoor dining/retail does not replace or supersede any private lease or contractual agreements between your business and the property owner/landlord or property owners authority for use of their land/site.

Application Requirements: In order to apply for a temporary outdoor dining/retail on private property, you will need to have the following information ready before you complete the application form:

  • Contact/Business Information – You will need to enter basic contact information for the business, point of contact, address/location, business hours.
  • Photograph – You will be asked to upload a photo of the outdoor area(s) you intend to use.
  • Site Plan – You will be asked to upload a simple diagram with dimensions showing the layout of the outdoor space, including where furnishings or merchandise will be placed. This can be a hand drawing on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper that is scanned and ready to upload.
  • ABC Approval (only if planning to serve alcohol outside) – If alcohol is sold and served, you will be asked to upload proof of California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) approval. More ABC information:

Specific Standards: In addition to the common standards listed above, the following standards will be required to be met while the temporary outdoor dining/retail on private property:

  • Program only allows temporary use during the COVID-19 pandemic and must discontinue and all materials, tables, removed at the terminus of the emergency. Applicant agrees to discontinue use and remove any temporary improvements within 48 hours or notification by the City.
  • Prior to use, applicant shall contact Marin County Health Dept and California Department of Alcohol Control (ABC) and comply with any requirements/ clearances.
  • Applicant is responsible to consult and receive authorization of property owner for the temporary use, including the size and location of the temp use.
  • Maintain all required fire lane drive aisle
  • Maintain safe drive aisles and pedestrian access to and from the building
  • Dining and retail activity and merchandise display area must be limited to the property on which the business is located.
  • This clearance is revocable and if safety issues or non compliance with these requirements arise, the temporary approval is revocable at any time.

No fees will be charged for this automatic permit. This permit is valid subject to City or County (Public Health) guideline changes.

Reviewed on a case by case basis, no fee. Fill out application below.

New Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Regulatory Relief for Restaurants

ABC’s COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization authorizes on-sale privileges to a property that is adjacent to the licensed premises so long as the property is under the control of the licensee, and where bona fide meals are being served and in accordance with state and local health and safety directives. Learn more.

Restaurants that wish to expand their permitted alcohol sales may do so by filing both of the following forms:

These forms may be turned into an ABC office via mail or in person. A check or money order of $100 will be accepted, no credit card payments.

See ABC’s FAQ here and additional guidance by license type here.

DISCLAIMER: The Temporary Outdoor Dining, Retail and Salon permit applications are pilot programs and subject to change or termination at any time in the discretion of the City of San Rafael.  Individual permits may also be revoked by the City if the City determines the applicant is in violation of the permit requirements. The conditional temporary permits authorized by these pilot programs are subject to all provisions of San Rafael Municipal Code Section 11.04.030, including the duty to indemnify the City of San Rafael for injuries to persons or damage to public or private property as set forth in Section

Outdoor Dining, Retail and Salon Application

This application is for the Use of Public Sidewalks and Plazas, Use of Public Parking Spaces, and Use of Outdoor Private Property only. At this time use of City Parking Lots and City streets (other than on-street parking spaces) is not permitted for outdoor dining and retail.


If you have questions:


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