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Our Fees Are Changing

As of January 16, 2023, our hourly rate and permit fees were updated. For more information about these changes, view How to Estimate and Pay Fees.

Outdoor Dining

Permit Counter Temporary Closures

To protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we closed our public-facing customer service counters on Monday, March 16, 2020. Our counters remain closed until further notice. This includes both the Street Use and the Traffic and Parking permit counters at the Seattle Municipal Tower on floors 23 and 37. We are still processing permit applications.

You can submit applications for all permit types online through the Seattle Services Portal.

Our staff will be available to provide application coaching and assist with issuing permits by phone or e-mail.

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 sidewalk tables and chairs 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 11 of our Applicant Guide [Coming Soon!] 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

Transportation

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
684-Road@seattle.gov

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.