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Cafe Tables and Chairs

Outdoor cafe and restaurant seating (tables and chairs) helps to enliven the sidewalk environment and encourage economic development in our neighborhood commercial districts and is one of many ways to activate the space in the public right of way under the SF Better Streets Plan.

The City has established an ordinance allowing restaurants and cafes to provide customers with outdoor seating that preserves the charms and uniqueness for which San Francisco is world famous. Cafe Tables and Chairs Guidelines have also been established for all business owners who wish to obtain a Revocable Street-Use Permit to place Tables and Chairs on the sidewalk in front of their restaurant or cafe. These guidelines balance safety and accessibility with commercial prosperity.

Now you can  Renew Your Permit and Pay Your Renewal Invoice online.

What ALL applicants need to know:

Tables & Chairs can be placed only on the sidewalk in front of the applicant's place of business.

  1. The sidewalk in front of the business must be wide enough such that a minimum of six feet of pedestrian clearance can be established. (this six feet of clearance must be free of all obstacles)
  2. Placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk must not in any way interfere with curb ramps, access to the building, driveways or access to any fire escape.
  3. Placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk must conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.  
  4. Additional Resources and Information  found in the DPW Order and Public Works Code.

Request for Planning Code Compliance

As part of the Café Tables & Chairs application, you are required to gain Department of City Planning (DCP) approval. Download the Request for Planning Code Compliance here. Take it to the Department of City Planning counter located at the lobby of 1660 Mission Street along with plan, and photos for Planning staff review. Once DCP has determined that this request is in compliance with Planning Code, DPW's Bureau of Street-Use and Mapping can then generate a Notice of Intent to Place Tables & Chairs and continue the permit process.

Design Guidelines

Placement of tables and chairs on the sidewalk must include the installation of diverters at each end to guide pedestrians away from the occupied area of the sidewalk. Diverters must conform to the following design guidelines:

  • Diverters must be flush with building at approximately 90 degrees.
  • Diverters must be sturdy, stable and have sufficient weight so that they cannot tip over or be blow away by the wind.
  • Diverters must be at least 30-inches high and must be solid within 24-inches of the ground.
  • Diverters must have contrasting colors so that they are distinctly visable to the visually impaired.
  • Diverters must be removable at the end of business hours.

Tables and Chairs Diagram

New Applicants Submittal Requirements :

  1. Complete entire application.
  2. Submit fully dimensioned site plan. (See Sample Drawing)
  3. Submit photos of the existing site conditions fronting your business.
  4. Pay processing fee; payable to DPW either by check or VISA/MC, ATM. (See Fee Schedule)
  5. Provide general liability insurance (minimum of $1,000,000), Certificate of Insurance endorsing the City and County of San Francisco as additional insured. (Sample)
  6. Receive “Planning Department” request approval form from BSM plan checker. Applicant must then go to 1660 Mission Street, 1st Floor, Window #1 for a sign off; upon returning document to DPW-BSM, BSM plan checker will immediately start public notification for the tables and chairs.
  7. Submit all the above items to the Permit Office at 1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.
  8. BSM Inspector will post an 11”x17” notification in the window or on the side of the building establishment for ten (10) calendar days.
  9. After notice expiration, the applicant will come back after notice expiration to the contact DPW-BSM to schedule an appointment to pay for the inspection fees and issuance of the permit.

Renewals:

DPW is not issuing any automatic renewal permits are currently working on a way to provide renewal online. Until then, the applicant must call (415) 554-5810 for an appointment with a BSM plan checker. Drop-ins may be accommodated, but applicant may need to wait for an available plan checker.

On the date of the appointment, the applicant must bring the following:

  1. Site plan (If different from original submittal. See Tables and Chairs Site Plan)
  2. New copy of updated certificate Insurance providing general liability insurance endorsing the City and County of San Francisco, 1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103, as additional insured.
  3. Expired Tables and Chairs permit (if applicable)
  4. Renewal fees by check, VISA or MC. (See Fee Schedule)

Application Approval Process

  • Once it is determined that an applicant has met all of the basic requirements, DPW will issue a Public Notice, informing the public that a permit is being considered to allow your business to place tables and chairs in the sidewalk area.
  • The applicant will be required to post a copy of the Public Notice in a readily visible place on the front of the applying business for ten calendar days.
  • If there are no objections from the public, the application will be approved and a Revocable Street-Use Permit will be issued.
  • If there are objections from the public, a Public Hearing will be scheduled. Approval or denial of the application is determined at the Public Hearing.
  • In the event of a denial, the applicant may appeal to the Board of Permit Appeals within 15 calendar days of the decision.
  • Inspection fees will be collected at the time the permit is issued, a copy must be displayed visibly at the place of business.

Responsibilities of Permit Holders

In order to maintain this Revocable Street-Use Permit, the permit holder must comply with all applicable rules and regulations which include the following:

  1. Permit Holder is responsible for making sure that all activities on the sidewalk stay within the approved area.
  2. Food trays or carts, receptacles for dirty dishes, etc shall not be placed or stored on any portion of the sidewalk or roadway area of a public street.
  3. Only approved diverters, which may not have protruding legs or supports, shall be used at all times.
  4. Diverters, tables and chairs in the sidewalk area must be kept free of advertising, litter and other debris at all times.
  5. Permit holder must provide at least one durable trash can within the permit area at all times.
  6. All tables, chairs, diverters, etc. must be promptly removed from the sidewalk area at the end of each business day.
  7. Permit holder must keep in force the liability insurance in which the City and County of San Francisco is named as additional insured as long as the permit is in effect.
  8. Permit holders must display a copy of the permit visibly for public view during business hours.
  9. All permit holders must request a renewal no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date of the Revocable Street-Use Permit.

Useful Links

 BSP Banner 800x80

Sample Cafe Table & Chairs

 The Grove: : tables and chairs
The Grove - 301 Hayes St

Farina Pizza: tables and chairs
Farina Pizza - 700 Valencia St

 Cafe Greco: tables and chairs
Cafe Greco - 423 Columbus Ave

 Basso's : tables and chairs
Basso's - 3782 24th St

All applicants who can comply with these guidelines are encouraged to submit an application for a permit to:


SF Public Works •
Bureau of Street-Use & Mapping
1155 Market Street, 3rd Floor • San Francisco, CA 94103 - map
Telephone : (415) 554-5810 • Monday-Friday
Operating Hours : 8:00am-5:00pm
Permit Processing Hours : 7:30am-4:00pm

Compliance vs Penalties

Businesses that are found to be non-compliant with the provisions of this permit will be issued a citation.  Multiple citations will result in increased renewal fees and / or revocation of the permit.

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Last updated: 7/21/2014 3:37:59 PM