Mayor Harrell signs legislation to expand free Safe Start outdoor space permits

Program supports small businesses and community members with outdoor dining and retail opportunities across the city

Seattle– Today Mayor Bruce Harrell signed legislation stretch out for free Safe start street cafe and outdoor dining permits through January 31, 2023. More than 250 Seattle businesses have participated in the program since June 2020.

“Seeing how our Seattle community has embraced these new spaces is exciting and inspiring,” said Mayor Harrell. “Continuing to offer free permits while we develop a long-term plan is a great way to support our small businesses, keep communities healthy, and bring energy and activation to our streets and communities. neighborhoods. Safe Start permits are an important tool as we strive to create a thriving, vibrant and welcoming environment. A Seattle for all residents. I am committed to realizing that future and I am grateful to Board Member Strauss for his consistent and determined leadership on behalf of these outdoor spaces.

In June 2020, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) simplified the permitting process to allow businesses to quickly obtain a free permit to open a temporary beer garden or sidewalk or sidewalk merchandise display , or a free street closure permit allowing businesses to operate on the street in front of their business. Temporary permits were previously set to expire on May 31, 2022 and will now be automatically extended until January 31, 2023 as the City updates the existing permit program and develops a transition plan.

“This step on the road to making outdoor dining permanent gives small businesses a foreseeable need to invest in outdoor dining and add vibrancy to our city,” said council member Dan Strauss. “Mayor Harrell and I agree on the need for permanent regulations and this bill gives SDOT time to create guidelines that are tailored to our city while giving our business community consistent regulations on which they can count. We know Seattleites love to eat outdoors, whether it’s 37 degrees or 73 degrees – I’m proud to make outdoor dining a permanent reality for our community.

A SDOT survey of more than 10,000 people found overwhelming support for the program with new outdoor spaces for dining, shopping, and more. 97% said they regularly dine out, shop or buy takeout. 90% expressed overall support for sidewalk cafes and curbside spaces, as well as full street closures for pedestrian-only restaurants and shops.

“Safe Starts permits are an example of one of the many ways Seattle has adapted to better meet public and business needs during the pandemic,” said SDOT Acting Director Kristen Simpson. “The free temporary permit program has helped restaurants and merchants stay in business despite difficult conditions and has also become a popular addition in many Seattle neighborhoods. This extension provides companies with greater predictability to plan ahead as we update our existing permitting programs and develop our next steps.

“Restaurants have been the hardest hit by the pandemic and many are deep in debt,” said Steve Hooper, president of the Seattle Restaurant Alliance and Ethan Stowell Restaurants. “The streets are a great way for restaurants to offer expanded dining options while increasing capacity – and customers have appreciated the ability to dine outdoors. We thank the town hall for this support. SDOT will continue to work with stakeholders, the community and small businesses to draft a long-term permit program proposal that streamlines applications and fees and ensures continued mobility, safety and accessibility. A draft of this policy is expected later this spring, with rules finalized by the end of this summer.