SF Wants To Make Outdoor Dining & Shared Spaces Permanent
Mayor London Breed Announces Legislation to Make Shared Spaces Program Permanent in San Francisco
Friday, March 12, 2021
Successful outdoor dining and retail program would continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, making permanent changes to streamline curbside, sidewalk, roadway and other permitting process for San Francisco businesses and organizations
Mayor London N. Breed today announced legislation to make the Shared Spaces program permanent in San Francisco. Building off the success of the past nine months of the temporary Shared Spaces program, which has allowed outdoor dining and retail, the permanent program will provide a streamlined permit process for San Francisco businesses, arts and culture organizations, and others to use curbside, sidewalk, full-street spaces and open lots.
The Shared Spaces program has enabled businesses to survive the pandemic and will continue to play a major role in San Francisco’s recovery from COVID‑19. The legislation is co-sponsored by Supervisors Ahsha Safai, Rafael Mandelman, Catherine Stefani, and Matt Haney.
The Shared Spaces program is currently tied to the declaration of a local state of emergency due to COVID-19. The legislation that Mayor Breed is introducing on Tuesday, March 16, will make the program permanent so that San Francisco residents, businesses, and organizations can continue to enjoy the outdoor spaces created over the past year. The permanent program also creates a clear path forward for new Shared Spaces and makes several programmatic adjustments to ensure equity and inclusion, promote arts, culture, and entertainment activities, and maintain accessibility and public access.
The permanent version of the program will carry forward the streamlined permit process; encourage arts & culture; and better balance commercial activities with public space and transportation demands of the recovering economy. Revised design and operating regulations won’t go into effect for pre-existing operators until January 1, 2022; giving pre-existing operators time to apply for the new permit and make any essential changes. Once the legislation goes into effect, any new operators will need to apply under the new program.
Fees for all operators, both pre-existing and new, will be deferred until June 2022.
- SF Waives Permit Fees for Restaurants’ Outdoor Heaters – 3/3/21
- El Rio’s Back Patio Reopening “Soon” – 2/23/21
- There Are Now 2,000+ Parklets in San Francisco – 2/17/21
- Top COVID-Safe Restaurants in SF (Based on Diner Feedback) – 2/12/21
- Outdoor Dining & Parklets Forever? – 2/12/21
- 30+ Streets in San Francisco Closed for Outdoor Dining – 1/29/21
The permanent program enables businesses to apply for a Shared Spaces permit on a sidewalk, in a curbside lane, roadway, private property, or pop-up entertainment through a single easy-to-use application portal. To make this program more sustainable in the long-term, and to better support sponsors up front with design quality, accessibility, and safety, the City will require approvals from City agencies within 30 days of businesses submitting an application, which is aligned with requirements under Proposition H passed by the voters in November 2020. The permanent Shared Spaces program includes clearer public engagement protocols, so neighboring businesses and residents have a say in how the streets and sidewalks are used in the long-term.
The Shared Spaces program will defer collection of permit fees until June 2022. The program will gradually start to rebalance curb uses as transportation needs increase along with a recovering economy, by incentivizing movable parklets and promoting space sharing and turnover amongst merchants on the block. Lastly, the City will provide coordinated enforcement for Shared Spaces to make compliance easier for businesses.
Learn more about the future of proposed Shared Spaces program
In March 2020, as San Francisco began to reopen following the initial Stay at Home Order, Mayor Breed announced the creation of the Shared Spaces program to support neighborhoods and businesses by providing additional public space to support local business activities. The Shared Spaces program was envisioned by the City’s Economic Recovery Task Force, with Mayor Breed convened, as a way to support businesses as they adapted by COVID-19 and needed to move more business operations outdoors. Throughout the summer, the Shared Spaces program enabled businesses to offer safer, outdoor commercial uses. In October 2020, following the recommendations of the Economic Recovery Task Force, Mayor Breed announced that the City would make elements of the Shared Spaces program permanent beyond the pandemic.
Types of Shared Spaces
Sidewalk Shared Spaces
- Sidewalk Merchandising, displaying goods outside
- Sidewalk Café Tables and Chairs, similar to the pre-existing sidewalk dining permit, but with more streamlined public notice requirements
Curbside Lane Shared Spaces (Parklets)
- A Public Parklet, similar to the City’s pre-COVID parklets, a fixed structure providing full-time, publicly accessible space and no commercial activity.
- A Movable Commercial Parklet, a space occupied by the operator using movable fixtures during limited business hours with a bench or other public seating facility. This option allows operators to use curb space that is needed for other curbside functions during the day, such as a Brunch restaurant that only operates until 1pm, after which the curb space is used for loading or short-term parking.
- A Commercial Parklet, similar to existing Shared Spaces, a fixed structure where an operator uses the parklet for commercial activity during business hours with a bench or other public seating facility, and is otherwise open to the public during non-commercial daytime hours.
Roadway Shared Spaces
- Community Event, neighborhood-led, free and open to the neighborhood event. These events are not approved by staff. Instead, they will be approved through the existing ISCOTT process, which includes membership of key departments, including SFPD, SFFD, SFMTA, Public Works, and others.
Private Property Shared Spaces
- In open lots, courtyards and rear yards between the hours of 9am and 10pm.
Entertainment, Arts & Culture
- Live music and other performing arts will be easier to do on a recurring basis in all of the outdoor venues listed above.
Since June 2020, more than 2,100 curbside and sidewalk permits have been issued by the City and businesses have credited the program with helping them stay open and survive during the pandemic. A recent survey found that of the Shared Space operators, over 50% are women-owned enterprises, 33% are immigrant-owned small businesses, and another 33% identify as minority owned. The Shared Spaces program has prioritized equity throughout its development, by assisting businesses with grants to create and operate Shared Spaces, and also providing multi-language outreach and assistance.
Outdoor Dining is Popular with Business Owners
In a recent survey of Shared Spaces operators, 84% of operators said that the Shared Spaces Program allowed them to reopen under public health directives; 80% said the program allowed them to avoid permanent closure; and 94% of operators said they would continue to operate an outdoor Shared Space even once allowed to operate indoors.