Department of Transportation Scott Kubly, Director
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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.
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.
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:
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.
Setbacks are required from the following elements. These elements must be clearly identified on the required site plan in the permit application.
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.
Sidewalk cafés will not require a change to the occupancy permit for the associated business, provided the following standards are met:
Fencing is required to delineate the sidewalk café from the pedestrian path of travel. The following design standards apply to fencing:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Sidewalk café seating is allowed adjacent to the curb only if:
Installation and use of speakers and other amplified sound equipment is not allowed.
Sidewalk café must be in compliance with all Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) laws, subject to WSLCB enforcement