City Launches New Round of Street Café Permitting to Extend Outdoor Dining

 Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle), Chair of the Land Use Committee, in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), is excited to announce that SDOT is officially accepting new permit applications for long-term ‘permanent’ outdoor street cafes.

SDOT will be accepting applications now through April 30th, 2023, for folks who are re-applying for a permit. If you are applying to be a first-time permit holder, you can apply at any time. In addition to the street cafes, there are new seasonal and temporary event-based permitting options. Cafes are allowed in the curb space or on sidewalks. The long-term permits renew annually. For more information, you can check out SDOT’s blog with the different permits and what they mean.


In October of 2022, Councilmember Strauss introduced legislation to make outdoor dining permanent in Seattle, which was passed unanimously by the Council in December. The law took effect in January, which completed the final step in the pathway to permanency for street cafes. The legislation incorporated aspects of the design charrettes that have created the street cafés on Ballard Avenue. Now in February, SDOT has begun accepting applications for both past permit holders and first-time applicants.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilmember Strauss worked with SDOT and directed them to make temporary changes to how we permit outdoor dining, merchandise displays, vending, and street and sidewalk closures. These changes were called “Safe Start Permits” which allowed businesses to safely operate during the height of the pandemic. These were temporary, free permits that streamlined the process for businesses and communities to use our streets and sidewalks to provide safe spaces for people to dine, shop, and socialize.


“In 2020, I took action to create a pathway to permanency for café streets after hearing from many small businesses about the program’s success,” said Councilmember Strauss. “The pandemic prompted us to use our outdoor spaces in new ways, and the addition of café streets across Seattle adds vibrancy to our neighborhoods while saving so many small businesses during a tough time. Many restaurants are still recovering from 2020 and 2021, and this permanent extension of the Safe Start Permits allows them greater flexibility to recoup costs. It’s a win-win for restaurants and Seattleites who enjoy spending time outdoors.”

“Thanks to the leadership of the Mayor and Councilmember Dan Strauss, Seattle’s streets are even more welcoming to all sorts of activation and interaction, from streateries to food trucks to merchandise displays. These policies will empower Seattle’s small businesses and community groups to bring to life their creative ideas, making our streetscape more vibrant, attractive, and fun,” says SDOT Director Greg Spotts