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Sidewalk Cafés

Overview

  - Tables and Chairs Permits
- Sidewalk Café Permits

Sidewalk Café Application Process

Proof of Insurance
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Frequently Asked Questions
Sidewalk Café Standards
Required Clear Path of Travel
Street Use General and Annual Permit Application: Sidewalk Café
SDOT Director's Rule 4-2011

CAM 2503

VI. SIDEWALK CAFÉ STANDARDS

These standards apply to all new sidewalk cafés in the right-of-way. SDOT has the discretion to approve modifications to these standards or require conditions to the permit given specific site characteristics.

  1. Compliance With ADA
  2. The sidewalk café must be accessible and detectable per American with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.

    Any sidewalk café less than 75 square feet must have an entrance/exit directly to the public place. If a sidewalk café has an area of 75 square feet or more and does not have an entrance/exit directly to the public place, the applicant will be required to obtain an additional DPD permit.

    • SDOT is responsible for reviewing:
      • ADA access in the public place around the sidewalk café;
      • ADA access from the public place into the sidewalk café, if it is less than 75 square feet in area or opposite a required building exit; and
      • Fencing is detectable by cane.
      • Furniture is movable and not permanently affixed.
    • DPD is responsible for reviewing:
      • ADA access to sidewalk café from the building, when the only access path is through the building.
  3. Clear Path of Pedestrian Travel.
  4. 1. A minimum of 6 feet of clear path of travel is required on all sidewalks located within the Downtown Urban Center. A minimum of 5 feet of clear path of travel is required on all other sidewalks. The clear path of travel is measured from the outside edge of the sidewalk café fencing or fence post base to the nearest obstruction (i.e., tree pit, parking meter, bike rack, planting strip, etc.). If no obstruction exists, the clear path of travel is measured to the back of the curb. Sidewalk cafés may not encroach into tree pits. A-frame, portable signs or any other encroachment is not allowed in the pedestrian clear path of travel.

    The Director may require more than the minimum clear path of travel when needed to facilitate the public’s use of the right-of-way. Examples of where the Director may require more than the minimum include, but are not limited to, areas with high peak-period pedestrian volumes, areas where more specific planning and analysis suggests a wider clear path of travel is necessary, areas where approved street design plans call for additional width, or areas with transit loading zones, public plazas, art installations, and access points where large volumes of pedestrians circulate.

    2. The pedestrian path of travel should be straight and not involve sharp or jagged turns that would impair pedestrian circulation.

    3. A sidewalk café width should not exceed the available pedestrian clear path of travel width. The Director may, in his or her sole discretion, allow the area of the sidewalk café to extend beyond the available pedestrian clear path of travel width when adjacent to one of the following:

    • Park, or
    • Street closed to vehicular traffic, or
    • Other public place.

    4. If the sidewalk café causes a change in pedestrian travel, appropriate repairs to the right-of-way in the immediate vicinity may be required to accommodate the change or to assure compliance with the ADA. An additional Street Use Construction permit must be obtained to perform any required repair work. (SMC 15.16.040(B)(10))

    5.Electrical cords or strings of lights may not be strung over or be placed on the pedestrian path of travel.

  5. Setbacks.
  6. Setbacks are required from the following elements. These elements must be clearly identified on the required site plan in the permit application.

    1. 5 feet from alleys and from bus, handicapped parking, and commercial loading zones.

    2. 5 feet from parking meters or pay stations, traffic signs, SDOT and utility poles, fire hydrants, bike racks, and other street fixtures.

    3. 3 feet from the front of the curb whenever sidewalk café is located adjacent to curb. See section IV (J) for requirements for approving a sidewalk cafe to be located adjacent to the curb.

    4. 5 feet from curb ramps, or the beginning of the corner curb radius where curb ramps do not exist.

  7. Building Exits.
  8. A clear path of travel must be maintained from any building exit, equal in width to the exit door. This path of travel must be free of obstructions, including gates of any type, and connect the building exit to the sidewalk.

  9. Exiting Requirements.
  10. Sidewalk cafés will not require a change to the occupancy permit for the associated business, provided the following standards are met:

    1. The total area of the sidewalk café is less than 75 square feet; or the total area of the sidewalk café is 75 square feet or more and a legal exit path can be provided directly to the public place.

    2. If the total area of a sidewalk café is 75 square feet or more and the only legal exit path is through the establishment, a DPD review is required. If DPD determines that interior alterations are needed to provide sufficient exiting, then a building permit application for the alterations permit will be required.

    3. Any sidewalk café less than 75 square feet must have egress directly to the public place. The egress must be free of obstructions, including gates of any type.

  11. Fencing.
  12. Fencing is required to delineate the sidewalk café from the pedestrian path of travel. The following design standards apply to fencing:

    1. Fencing must be between 30 and 42 inches in height. Fencing must be 42 inches in height, if required by the State Liquor Control Board.

    2. Fencing must be detectable by cane to warn visually impaired persons of potential hazards in the path of travel. Fencing must include one or more of the following detectable elements:

    a. A toe rail with its top edge at 6 inches minimum in height and its bottom edge no higher than 1-1/2 inches above the adjacent surface;

    b. Fencing, landscaping, or other elements detectable by cane spaced no more than 27 inches vertically and no more than 24 inches horizontally; or

    c. Elements sufficiently detectable by cane to warn visually impaired persons of potential hazards in the path of travel.

    3. Fence posts may be attached to the sidewalk with bolts or utilize free-standing bases. When bolted fencing is removed, the bolts must be removed from the sidewalk, the holes must be filled, and the sidewalk must be restored to original or better condition.

    4. Fencing must be generally transparent. Solid sheet fencing surfaces are not permitted.

    5. Fencing should be constructed with a railing, rope or other horizontal element; posts with pointed tops are not permitted.

    6. Fencing must be constructed of high-quality finish materials (such as steel, glass or finish woods). Plastic and/or raw or pressure-treated lumber is not allowed.

    7. Fencing shall not contain electrical or other utility elements.

    8. Landscaped planters may be used in-lieu of fencing. Ropes or chains with free-standing bases may also be used, provided the above standards are met.

    9. All seating and tables must be movable to accommodate wheelchair access.

  13. Seating Platforms.
  14. Seating platforms and other structures are discouraged from the public place and a separate Street Use permit must be applied for any time additional items beyond the sidewalk café fencing, including seating platforms, are proposed to be installed in the public place. Additional permitting and review will be required by SDOT for all proposed seating platforms and additionally from DPD if the seating platform surface is 18 inches or more in height above existing grade at any point. Only sites that require leveling due to site topography will be considered by SDOT for approval for an additional Street Use seating platform permit. When allowed, seating platforms should not be higher than what is required to level the site. Seating platforms must be temporary in nature and removable, with no lasting damage to the sidewalk or public place. The following design standards apply:

    1. Seating platforms may generally not be 18 inches or more in height above existing grade at any point. Additional height may be allowed, depending on site topography characteristics, and will require additional DPD review and/or permit. Refer to Section III.D for when other DPD review would be required.

    2. Seating platforms must be wheelchair accessible, as required by Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, and must provide a fixed railing and other safety measures in accordance with Seattle Building Code ( SBC) Section 1607.7 and ANSI 117.1.

    • SDOT is responsible for reviewing:
        • ADA access in public place around seating platform;
        • ADA access from the public place onto the seating platform, if less than 75 square feet in area or opposite required building exit; and
        • Seating platform is detectable by cane.
    • DPD is responsible for reviewing:
        • ADA access to seating platform from building when the only access path is through the building; and
        • SBC standards are met for seating platforms 18 inches or more above existing grade at any point.

    3. All seating and tables on the seating platform must be movable to accommodate wheelchair access.

    4. All visible portions of the seating platform and its railing and footings should be constructed with high-quality finish materials (such as steel, glass or finish woods).

    5. Street use permit applications for seating platforms are required to have the following:

    a. A plan stamped by a registered design professional (engineer or architect). The stamp must be accompanied by a statement confirming that the seating platform conforms to Seattle Building Code (SBC), Chapter 11, Accessibility, and other applicable regulations including, but not limited to, SBC Section 1607.7 and International Code Council A117.1.

    b. If the proposed seating platform is over an areaway, the applicant must submit an additional structural analysis by a professional engineer of the load capacity of the sidewalk and areaway.

    c. An indemnity agreement will be prepared by SDOT for approved seating platform permit applications. The indemnity agreement must be signed and notarized by the property owner and recorded with King County Records.

    6. For seating platforms less than 18 inches in height for which a DPD permit was not required, applicant must submit a letter stamped by a registered design professional to SDOT, confirming that the seating platform was installed per the Seattle Building Code (SBC), Chapter 11, Accessibility, and other applicable regulations including, but not limited to, SBC Section 1607.7 and International Code Council A117.1. Letter must be submitted to SDOT within one week of installation of seating platform.

  15. Landscaping.
  16. Where seating platforms are used, potted plants, planter boxes or other landscaping is required at either end to delineate it from the rest of the sidewalk or public place. These planters must be contained within the footprint of the approved sidewalk café dimensions. Landscaping may be no higher than 42 inches and may not encroach on the clear path of travel required in subsection I of this Rule.

  17. Heating Elements and Overhead Weather Protection.
  18. Heating elements and free-standing umbrellas are allowed within the footprint of the permitted café, but may not encroach on the clear path of travel required in subsection IV.B of this Rule, except that when opened, an umbrella may encroach on the clear path of travel if the opened portion is more than 8 feet above sidewalk grade and if no part of the umbrella is within 25 feet of a stop sign. Heating elements must be of a type permitted by the Seattle Fire Marshall and must be temporary in nature and easily removable.

  19. Sidewalk Café Adjacent to Curb.
  20. Sidewalk café seating is allowed adjacent to the curb only if:

    1. On-street parking is present,
    2. The clear path of travel requirements described in Section IV.A. are met, and
    3. The setback requirements described in Section IV. Band Care met.


  21. Amplified Sound.
  22. Installation and use of speakers and other amplified sound equipment is not allowed.

  23. Liquor Control.
  24. Sidewalk café must be in compliance withall Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) laws, subject to WSLCB enforcement

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