Outdoor Dining

Updated 1/2023

What is an outdoor dining permit? 

An Outdoor Dining permit allows a food service business to operate a café on the sidewalk, in a curbspace, or in other public spaces. Unlike a public amenities permit, under an outdoor café permit, a café may provide table service and also reserve the café solely for their customers’ use during business hours. After hours, the space may not be locked or closed off to the public. We encourage designs that allow for public use when the business isn’t open.  

We offer both long-term renewable Outdoor Dining permits as well as seasonal permits that allow you to set up your cafe between April 1 – October 31 of a calendar year. Seasonal uses must be fully removed from the right-of-way by the end-of-day on October 31st. Anyone wishing to set up for the next year’s season must submit a new permit application at that time.  

Ready to Apply? 

Click the Applicant Guide link below for more information about requirements and guidelines:  

Permit Renewal and Change in Ownership  

For Long Term Use Outdoor Dining permits, fees include issuance, inspection, and an annual renewal fee, subject to increase over time. See our Street Use Fee Schedule PDF on this page for more information. The annual fees cover a one-year period, and our permitting system will renew the permit if it is in good standing.  

For Seasonal Business Use Outdoor Dining permits, the permit is valid from April 1 until October 31st. This permit includes issuance and inspection fee, see our Street Use Fee Schedule PDF on this page for more information After that date, you are not permitted to place your equipment in the right-of-way. You will need to reapply each year for that permit through the Seattle Services Portal.  

Need to make changes on your existing permit? You can request a permit revision through the Seattle Services Portal.

If there is change in business or property ownership and no change to the use, the new owner must apply for a new long-term Outdoor Dining permit. In the application, note “transfer of ownership” in the project description field.  

Permit Duration 

It’s important to understand that all Street Use permits are temporary in nature and do not grant you permanent rights to occupy the public right-of-way. We may revoke permits pursuant to SMC 15.04.070. If a permit is revoked or terminated, the right-of-way shall be returned to its original condition. See Step 10 of our Applicant Guide for more details. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What about cafés on private property? 

Café permit applications that also include seating on private property will require Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) review. We will route these internally while your application is being processed. If the outdoor seating area is located exclusively on private property, you will need to check with SDCI directly regarding permits needed to install your outdoor seating area.  

How do I report noise concerns or other issues with a sidewalk café?  

Noise-related issues can be sent to the Seattle Police Department's non-emergency number at (206) 625-5011. The City also has a noise abatement team. You can learn more about Seattle's Noise Ordinance here. We manage the use of streets of sidewalks; we have the right to require immediate changes if a café has expanded beyond its permitted area and may revoke or modify an approved café permit due to any ongoing problems. We can be reached at (206) 684-ROAD from 8 AM to 5 PM during the work week. 

Where can I see and comment on café permit applications?  

Information about public notices can be found on our Public Comment page. Public notices of these applications are posted in a prominent place at each of the proposed locations and are clearly visible from the adjacent sidewalk. The notices must remain posted throughout the comment period and at least 10 business days after the permit is issued. The notice form includes detailed information on the proposed café, comment period dates, and an explanation of how the public can comment on the pending application and request a review or reconsideration of a permit decision. Written comments concerning Street Use permit applications must be postmarked or emailed to us no later than 10 business days after the first day of the public notice period. Address and email information to send comments is listed in the Public Comment page


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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