Seattle city leaders announce free sidewalk, curb space permits to help businesses reopen

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Dukan, Council member Alex Pedersen and Council member Dan Strauss on Friday announced new efforts to help support businesses as they reopen during phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

Durkan will transmit legislation that will make new, temporary Seattle Department of Transportation street permits free. Strauss and Pedersen will sponsor the legislation.

Officials said SDOT will immediately begin accepting the permit applications to allow restaurants, retail stores, vending trucks and carts to operate on the sidewalk or in the curb space in front of their business.

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The city is also launching a series of phase 2 reopening toolkits designed to help small businesses that are authorized to reopen navigate public health requirements and financial considerations. See more information below.

“For many of our small businesses, the ability to operate outside – even at a limited capacity – provides a much-needed lifeline during these challenging times,” Durkan said in a news release.

The options for the temporary street-use permit will be available for up to six months and are for sidewalks, merchandise displays and food and other vending.

“We know small businesses are the heartbeat of our neighborhoods, and our city government will continue to be a creative partner to find solutions so businesses can safely reopen their stores and restaurants to the public, Pedersen said.

Here are the free permit options:

  • Temporary Outdoor Café Permit: A business owner should request this permit if they are a restaurant owner who would like seating on the sidewalk or in the curb space parking. An additional permit from Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will be required to serve alcohol.
  • Temporary Merchandise Display Permit: A business owner should request this permit if they are a retail business owner who would like to expand operations outside into the sidewalk or in the curb space parking (note that this includes the point of sale).
  • Temporary Vending Permits: A business owner should request this permit if they are a vendor who would like more flexibility on their vending location and duration. This includes street and sidewalk locations for food trucks and carts.

Officials said SDOT is expediting and prioritizing these types of permit applications by requiring public notice instead of the standard two-week public comment period.

However, officials said additional review time may be necessary depending on the quality of the permit application, site complexity, and volume of requests.

SDOT has been working to evaluate any street closures in addition to sidewalk café permits.

The reopening toolkits are not intended to provide public health guidance, officials said. Instead, they’re meant to distill information from the state and county and make reopening guidance more accessible.

Officials said the toolkits include a reopening checklist, resources to access personal protective equipment and financial assistance, testing information, and rent and commercial lease assistance.

The toolkits are available for:

  • Restaurants and taverns.
  • Personal services.
  • Professional services.
  • In-store retail.
  • Fitness and training.
  • Domestic services.

The toolkits are available on the city’s new reopening website, and are translated into Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.

In addition, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections created an occupancy calculator designed to help businesses determine how many staff and patrons they can have in their establishment to remain in compliance with phase 2 reopening requirements.