• City of Edmonds

Streateries in Edmonds - Q and A

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Edmonds is doing its best to support local businesses. Restaurants have had a particularly challenging time due to on-again, off-again restrictions.

We’ve heard from restaurants that it can be hard to keep up with the changes in permits, ADA access, and even table placement. That’s why we have proposed a code amendment to specifically allow “streateries” (café-type food and beverage service in designated vehicle parking spaces).

Meanwhile, we know our website needs to be updated to provide more information about the new options for streateries, as well as more information about sidewalk dining. You will see those changes soon.

If you still have questions, please email and we will do our best to post them with responses here.

Thank you for your patience as we all navigate this new space.

Q and A

What is the latest information regarding streateries?

At the Dec. 15 City Council meeting, the Council approved new regulations for streateries that effectively restart the process and the clock on these outdoor eating spaces.

All restaurants must apply for a permit to establish any outdoor eating spaces in the right of way. The rules are now formalized and must be followed. The City recognizes that costs associated with building out platforms, buying tents, etc. is expensive, so we hope that by guaranteeing the ability to keep the streatery in place for a year, starting with the approval of the permit, restaurant owners have more information so they can make better decisions about long-term investments.

Regarding a proposed limit of 20 streateries, is that a limit of 20 permits or 20 parking spaces?

That proposed limit is for 20 permits, not parking spaces.

Why only 20?

Under the Special Event permit in 2020 in the past year, we had up to 18 streateries. We settled on 20 as a good upward number. If more restaurants choose this option, we can return to Council with a different proposed number. We are balancing the number of parking spaces used for streateries versus vehicle parking needs in the area.

Will restaurants that are currently built out get priority?

No. It will be on a first come, first served basis, based on receipt of completed applications.

What is the process for getting a permit?

  • A completed permit application

  • A staff review of the proposal to confirm it meets code requirements.

  • Issuance of a permit for a project that meets requirements

Will all restaurants, even those currently using streateries, be required to obtain a permit?

Yes, if you want a streatery after Jan. 1, you must have a permit. Our staff is working on the application now and it should be ready by Dec. 18 and available for download from a City webpage. We will add a link and issue a news release as soon as the material is ready.

How will you review/issue permits for businesses that want to use a commercial space (e.g., a parking lot) or other space not in the right of way) for outdoor dining if it has not already been permitted for outdoor dining?

To establish an on-site outdoor dining space (not in the right of way), a streamlined process has been adopted. Under the city’s old code, this would have required a special conditional use permit. Now, it requires only meeting certain basic zoning requirements without a permit—except that any temporary or permanent structures (such as tents or awnings) need a building and/or fire permit.

Can permits be revoked for non-compliance?

Yes. If the City issues three notices of violation for non-compliance, the City may revoke the permit.

What is the City’s plan for enforcement?

City staff will do an inspection after the streatery is installed to make sure it is meeting the code requirements and give the business a chance to comply. After that, City staff may do spot checks to see if conditions continue to be met.

The current encroachment permit states that “permanent structures” in the right-of-way are subject to permitting and review. Will this be required of Bistro dining used to affix semi-permanent tenting and structures?

“Bistro dining” (AKA exclusive sidewalk dining) is generally not treated as an encroachment permit. Bistro dining (aka “exclusive sidewalk dining”) has been previously permitted through a special permit and agreement. Any semi-permanent structures not already covered by this type of permit/agreement would be subject to Fire or other types of permits.

Please make the Bistro permit process and other permit process more visible and accessible on the City website.

We are working on that now. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

What about restaurants that put up and take down tables daily to comply with ADA sidewalk access? Is everyone currently utilizing outdoor sidewalk space w/ semi-permanent seating, tents, fixtures in possession of one of these permits?

For streateries (in parking spaces), businesses will have the choice of using furniture for the streatery that is removed nightly or using semi-permanent furniture, such as seating, that they wish to remain there during the entire permit period. Most streateries will be located on a platform which can remain in place.

Bistro dining (aka ”exclusive sidewalk dining”) is permitted as a separate street use permit through the City’s Engineering Division. Requirements will stay mostly the same, except that approved sidewalk markings will be allowed, instead of fencing, to designate the area. Any components projecting more than 36 inches into the (sidewalk) right of way need to be removed nightly.

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