Temporary outdoor use permits
On June 19, 2020, the City Council adopted an urgency ordinance to help support and reactivate local businesses by temporarily allowing expanded dining and retail options on the sidewalk, in on-street parking spaces, public parking plazas and/or privately-owned shopping areas and parking lots. The program was subsequently reviewed and revised on July 16, 2020, September 8, 2020, October 6, 2020 and February 23, 2021. Program revisions included:
- Extending the program expiration several times, currently through January 31, 2022;
- Adding personal services and fitness studios uses that can apply for temporary outdoor services; and
- Modifying the roadway closures and allowing temporary business use of the roadway within the closed segments.
There is no fee to apply for this permit.
What can you do?
All businesses in Menlo Park can apply to use space on a sidewalk or in privately-owned shopping areas or parking in a private lot, subject to certain conditions. Businesses in downtown* may also apply for the usage of public parking plaza spaces, on-street parking spaces and (where applicable) closed roadways. Potential uses for these temporary outdoor spaces can be dining, retail, personal services and fitness.
*Downtown is defined as the area bounded by El Camino Real, Oak Grove Avenue, Menlo Avenue and University Drive
1. Understand requirements
All outdoor business spaces will be required to do the following:
- Receive a temporary outdoor use permit
- Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Follow all applicable local, County and State health orders
- Provide all the materials and equipment needed for the use
- Keep materials and equipment in the approved area
- Maintain a clear path at least 4 feet wide on the sidewalk
Additional parking plaza/private parking lot requirements:
- Install traffic barriers that are not easily moved, altered, or stolen; and are stable and sturdy enough not to fall over or be pushed over to withstand 250 lbs. of force to separate outdoor area from vehicular traffic (water-filled Jersey barriers are allowed).
- Cannot utilize accessibility or electric vehicle designated parking spots.
Additional on-street parking requirement (if not within closed portion of Santa Cruz Avenue)
- Install traffic barriers that are crash-rated (e.g., k-rail) or otherwise approved by the City to separate outdoor area from vehicular traffic. If assistance obtaining barriers is needed from the City, please note the request in the application.
- Use of the on-street parking spaces shall be limited to the striped dimensions of the parking stall areas.
Additional construction requirements
- Submit a site specific sketch of the work proposed
- Provide additional specifications if roofed structures (including temporary tents), lights, heaters or similar features are proposed
- Contractors must have a Menlo Park business license
- Contractors must have a State contractor’s license to work in the public right-of-way
- If the construction will obstruct the flow of pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular traffic for a significant amount of time, a traffic control plan adhering to the Menlo Park traffic control guidelines may be required.
2. Talk to your neighbors
Businesses applying for space in the public right-of-way adjacent to another business must obtain consent from that business. Businesses applying for space on private property that is adjacent or used by another business must obtain consent from all tenants affected or the property owner. Examples include private parking lots shared with other businesses and public space immediately surrounding a neighbor. Once neighbor approval is obtained, it will be valid through at least the permit expiration date that is in effect at the time of the authorization.
3. Prepare insurance documents
Businesses proposing to use the public right-of-way (e.g. sidewalks, public parking plaza and on-street parking spaces) will be required to name the City of Menlo Park’s officials, agents, employees and contractors as additional insured. Review the certificate of insurance guidelines needed for submittal with your application. The liability insurance policy shall include a contractual liability endorsement providing insurance coverage for the Permittee’s agreement to indemnify the City. Businesses applying to use private property only, with no use of the public right-of-way, are exempt from providing the insurance documents.
You will need the documents above (situational requirements, insurance and neighbor consent) as well as the following:
- Contact information
- Business location and information
- Space usage information (i.e., site plan, photos, specifications)
More information on submittal requirements
Note: You will need an account with the city's online permit portal. To register, click on either of the "Register for an Account" links and follow the prompts. Once registered, applications for temporary outdoor use permits can be found under Planning.
5. After you apply
You should receive a response on your application within 48 to 72 hours. Once approved, businesses are able and encouraged to use their temporary spaces immediately.
Temporary outdoor use permit requirements
Permittee hereby accepts this permit subject to all conditions set forth herein, and the attached conditions, and agrees that all of said conditions and provisions shall be binding on Permittee, co‐owners, heirs, assigns, transferees and successors in interest of every nature. This permit expires January 31, 2022, unless revoked or extended by the City.
- Permittee shall adhere to all local, County and State health orders.
- Permittee shall comply with all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide sufficient clearance and walkway space to allow safe access and egress.
- The use of this space will only be in conjunction with the business and only during hours of operations.
- Permittee shall keep furniture, equipment and goods in the approved area.
- Permittee shall maintain outdoor area and any temporary structure in a good and safe condition.
- Outdoor areas shall be maintained free of litter, refuse and debris.
- Permittee shall assure adequate visibility of encroachment or use during daytime and nighttime hours.
- Encroachment/use shall not restrict visibility to any active traffic control devices or signs.
- Permittee agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the City of Menlo Park, it’s elected and appointed officials, employees, and agents (collectively “Indemnified Parties”) from and against any and all claims, loss, liability, damage, and expense arising out of or caused in whole or in part by Permittee’s activity, or by reason of or in any manner connected with any and all operations, structures or conditions authorized or permitted by this permit (collectively “Claims”).
- Permittee shall keep at least $1 million in commercial general liability insurance coverage and shall name the City of Menlo Park, officials, agents, employees, and contractors as additional insureds. Such insurance policy shall remain in effect during the life of the permit, including applicable extensions.
- Permittee shall be responsible for obtaining any and all permits which may be required by an Agency having jurisdiction over the property and/or proposed use.
- Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages in the outdoor dining area shall be required to meet all requirements of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and any other federal, state, or local laws and regulations governing the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Any damages to existing private and/or public facilities and improvements above ground or below ground, shall be promptly repaired or replaced at the permittee’s expense, and claims for damage to City property must be promptly paid.
- Applicant is responsible for determining exact locations or depths of existing utilities or other facilities. Call Underground Service Alert (USA) at 1-800-227-2600 a minimum of 48 hours before performing work.
- This grant of permission does not constitute a deed or grant of easement by the City, is not transferable or assignable and is revocable at any time at the will of the City.
- This permit does not authorize tree trimming or tree removal.
- The use of City property by permittee shall be limited to the purposes set forth by this permit and no structures of any kind, except those expressly permitted shall be erected or placed thereon.
- The City reserves the right to revoke a temporary outdoor use permit that (i) creates an obstruction to, or causes congestion of, pedestrian or vehicular traffic due to existing conditions on the surrounding public right of way if it finds the installation represents a danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the public or (ii) a business violates the requirements of the encroachment permit requirements or Health Orders.
- All items installed to support the temporary outdoor use permit shall be temporary in nature and removed at the expiration of the permit, unless extended by the City. Upon removal of these items, the site shall be restored to its previous condition within 48 hours.
1. Site plan drawing
Please submit a site plan of the proposed outdoor dining or retail area, no smaller than 8.5” x 11.” The plan does not need to be drawn to scale, but should be legible with clear labels and dimensions. If the plan is drawn to scale, please clearly indicate the scale on the plan. Please include the following information on the site plan:
- Location (address) and name of business
- Show and dimension existing sidewalk width and any other nearby features such as fire hydrants, news racks, trees, light poles, bike racks, benches, utility boxes, etc.
- Show proposed seating or display layout, maintaining minimum 6-foot social distancing requirements for dining
- If roofed structures (including temporary tents) are proposed, show columns/posts and provide additional details on the specific structure that is proposed
- If lights, heaters or similar equipment is proposed, show their location and any associated wiring connections
- If the use will be located on the sidewalk, please demonstrate a minimum 4-foot clear path of travel
- If the use will be located adjacent to vehicular traffic (e.g., within on-street parking spaces not closed to traffic or within a parking lot/plaza), please identify the number of spaces to be utilized and location and type of barricades to be used. If assistance obtaining barricades is needed from the City, please note the request in the application.
- Photos of the business frontage
- Sample site plan
2. Construction drawing
If applicable, please submit a site specific sketch of the work to be performed to install any parklets or platforms as part of the proposal. Please include labels with the materials, features and dimensions of the proposed work (e.g., platform flush with sidewalk for dining in on-street parking spaces).
- Business license:
If construction is proposed, contractors must have a Menlo Park business license.
- Contractor’s license:
Contractors must have a State contractor’s license to work in the public right of way. Class A and C8 are the most common.
- Traffic Control Plan:
Traffic control plan is required for work that will block public right of way during construction. Plan shall include re-routing of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
3. Proof of insurance
The City of Menlo Park and its officers, officials, employees and volunteers must be named as additional insured for all businesses applying for space in the public right of way (e.g. sidewalks, public parking plaza and on-street parking spaces). The liability insurance policy shall include a contractual liability endorsement providing insurance coverage for the Permittee’s agreement to indemnify the City. Businesses applying to use private property only, with no overlap of the public right of way, are exempt from providing the additional insurance documents.
4. Right of way/parking plaza allocation consent letter
Downtown businesses meeting specific requirements are permitted to use the right of way immediately adjacent to their frontage (sidewalk and/or on-street parking spaces and/or public parking plazas). Businesses may expand their space to include areas fronting adjacent storefronts if they get a signed letter granting permission from the tenant of a storefront with open frontage or the property owner, if the storefront is vacant. The consent letter should demonstrate that neighbors are aware of the specifics of the proposal (e.g., if a tent is proposed, the letter should note that), as well as the program expiration date that is currently in effect. Use of the on-street parking spaces shall be limited to the striped dimensions of the parking stall areas and shall not encroach into the through travel lane. Additionally, on-street parking on active roadways may be subject to review by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.
5. Private shopping areas consent letter
Businesses located outside of the Downtown meeting specific requirements are permitted to expand dining and retail options into the sidewalk and adjacent private areas and/or parking lots. If the parking lot is shared among tenants, a business must get a signed letter granting permission from the other tenants in the shopping center or the property owner to use the parking spaces. If a business wishes to expand their space to include areas fronting adjacent storefronts, they must also get a signed letter granting permission from the adjacent tenants or the property owners, if the storefront is vacant. The consent letter should demonstrate that neighbors are aware of the specifics of the proposal (e.g., if a tent is proposed, the letter should note that), as well as the program expiration date that is currently in effect.