In order to preserve the charm and uniquiness for which San Francisco is world famous, the City has established an ordinance that allows restaurants and cafes to provide their customers with outdoor seating. To balance safety and accessibility with commercial prosperity, guidelines were established for all business owners who wish to obtain a Revocable Street-Use Permit to place Tables and Chairs on the sidewalk in front of their restaurnt or cafe.
Now you can Renew Your Permit and Pay Your Renewal Invoice online.
What ALL applicants need to know:
Tables & Chairs can be placed only on the sidewalk in front of the applicant's place of business.
- The sidewalk in front of the business must be wide enough such that a minimum of six feet of pedestrian clearance can be established. (this six feet of clearance must be free of all obstacles)
- Placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk must not in any way interfere with curb ramps, access to the building, driveways or access to any fire escape.
- Placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk must conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.
- Additional Resources and Information found in the DPW Order and Public Works Code.
Request for Planning Code Compliance
As part of the Café Tables & Chairs application, you are required to gain Department of City Planning (DCP) approval. Download the Request for Planning Code Compliance here. Take it to the Department of City Planning counter located at the lobby of 1660 Mission Street along with plan, and photos for Planning staff review. Once DCP has determined that this request is in compliance with Planning Code, DPW's Bureau of Street-Use and Mapping can then generate a Notice of Intent to Place Tables & Chairs and continue the permit process.
Placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk must include the installation of diverters at each end to guide pedestrians away from the occupied area of the sidewalk. Diverters must conform to the following design guidelines:
- Diverters must be flush with building at approximately 90 degrees.
- Diverters must be sturdy, stable and have sufficient weight so that they cannot tip over or be blown away by the wind.
- Diverters must be at least 30-inches high and must be solid within 24-inches of the ground.
- Diverters must have contrasting colors so that they are distinctly visible to the visually impaired.
- Diverters must be removable at the end of business hours.
New Applicants must submit the following with their application
1. A site plan showing:
a) Entrance to business and other building entrances.
b) Property lines, sidewalk width and all surface obstructions within 15 feet of occupied area (e.g. fire hydrants, streetlights, parking meters, etc).
c) Width of occupied area, full dimensions and material (finish paint, laminate, aluminum, plywood, etc.) of the display stand and awnings with their relative proximity with 6-foot pedestrian clearance.
2. An itemized list of merchandise intended to be displayed.
3. Payment of a processing fee prior to permit processing.
4. If a street closure is required, applicant must obtain a Street Closure Permit from the Traffic Engineering Division of the Municipal Transportation Agency at 701-4500.
5. Refer to current fee schedule.
6. Provide evidence of liability insurance for a minimum coverage of $1,000,000, naming the City and County of San Francisco as additional insured. The insurance coverage must be in force for the duration of the permit. Sample Diagram pdf
Application Approval Process
- Once it is determined that an applicant has met all of the basic requirements, DPW will issue a Public Notice, informing the public that a permit is being considered to allow your business to place tables and chairs in the sidewalk area.
- The applicant will be required to post a copy of the Public Notice in a readily visible place on the front of the applying business for ten calendar days.
- If there are no objections from the public, the application will be approved and a Revocable Street-Use Permit will be issued.
- If there are objections from the public, a Public Hearing will be scheduled. Approval or denial of the application is determined at the Public Hearing.
- In the event of a denial, the applicant may appeal to the Board of Permit Appeals within 15 calendar days of the decision.
- Inspection fees will be collected at the time the permit is issued, a copy must be displayed visibly at the place of business.
Responsibilities of Permit Holders
In order to maintain this Revocable Street-Use Permit, the permit holder must comply with all applicable rules and regulations which include the following:
- Permit Holder is responsible for making sure that all activities on the sidewalk stay within the approved area.
- Food trays or carts, receptacles for dirty dishes, etc shall not be placed or stored on any portion of the sidewalk or roadway area of a public street.
- Only approved diverters, which may not have protruding legs or supports, shall be used at all times.
- Diverters, tables and chairs in the sidewalk area must be kept free of advertising, litter and other debris at all times.
- Permit holder must provide at least one durable trash can within the permit area at all times.
- All tables, chairs, diverters, etc. must be promptly removed from the sidewalk area at the end of each business day.
- Permit holder must keep in force the liability insurance in which the City and County of San Francisco is named as additional insured as long as the permit is in effect.
- Permit holders must display a copy of the permit visibly for public view during business hours.
- All permit holders must request a renewal no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date of the Revocable Street-Use Permit.
All applicants who can comply with these guidelines are encouraged to submit an application for a permit to:
Department of Public Works
Bureau of Street-Use and Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor (Map)
San Francisco Ca. 94103
Compliance vs Penalties
Businesses that are found to be non-compliant with the provisions of this permit will be issued a citation. Multiple citations will result in increased renewal fees and / or revocation of the permit.
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