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Guidelines finalized for new, semi-permanent outdoor dining areas on the street

Posted on January 29, 2021

outdoor dining

Visit the COVID Temporary Outdoor Services: Dining, Retail & Salons Webpage

Building off of the criteria developed last spring for temporary on-street dining areas, the City has finalized new guidelines for restaurants in San Rafael seeking to build semi-permanent outdoor dining areas in the parking lane to expand their COVID-friendly dining. The City received feedback that the previous language used on the Temporary Outdoor Services webpage was lengthy and unclear, so the entire webpage — including the online application — has been revamped and simplified in order to provide restaurants with a clear understanding of how to navigate the process. There is no fee for this temporary permit.

The new webpage provides guidance to establishments on how to construct a semi-permanent platform, walls, and overhead structures in the parking lane should they choose to. It is important to note that the City strongly recommends establishments erect tents as overhead sun and weather protection as opposed to building a semi-permanent roof or trellis overhead. No permit is required to set up a tent (open on 2 sides) <400 sq ft or canopy (open on 1 side or no sides) <700 sq ft in the parking lane. However, any installation of a semi-permanent roof or trellis will require a Building Permit. Applicants seeking to construct a roof or trellis overhead should visit Building Division webpage and watch the “How to Apply for a Building Permit Online” video to get started. The building permit type is a General Permit. The ordinary building permit fee will be waived for on-street dining structure roofs and trellises.

For tents <400 sq ft and canopies <700 sq ft, electrical and propane heaters may be installed without a permit. Propane heaters installed should have overhead clearances that conform to the manufacturer’s specifications from combustibles (typically 3 above and on all sides).

To protect diners, the City will install 2 water wall barriers at the end of each on-street dining area that faces oncoming traffic, as well as reflective plastic delineators along the outer edge of the dining area.

Any establishments that previously received a temporary permit from the City for outdoor dining may continue to operate under the conditions of the previous permit without applying for a new one. However, any establishments that wish to expand their outdoor dining by constructing a semi-permanent structure in the on-street parking lane must reapply at this time.

All approved temporary outdoor dining permits are valid through at least November 1, 2021.

Visit to learn more and apply.

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