Street and Sidewalk Activities

Permit Counter Temporary Closures

To protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we closed our public-facing customer service counters on Monday, March 16, 2020. Our counters remain closed until further notice. This includes both the Street Use and the Traffic and Parking permit counters at the Seattle Municipal Tower on floors 23 and 37. We are still processing permit applications.

You can submit applications for all permit types online through the Seattle Services Portal.

Our staff will be available to provide application coaching and assist with issuing permits by phone or e-mail.

Proposed Changes: Street Closures (July 2022 DRAFT)

Street and Sidewalk Activity Permits allow for-profit and not-for-profit businesses; schools and religious institutions; government departments; arts, health, and human services organizations; business organizations; and other local community groups to use public space to enliven our streets, alleys, and plazas and strengthen our sense of community. During the recent pandemic, these permits were focused primarily on supporting our struggling restaurant and retail businesses by providing extra space for them to serve customers. As we return to a new normal, these permits will once again broaden to include activities of many types.

What we’re proposing for 2023

Street and Sidewalk Activities Permits allow for a variety of street activations that include sidewalk, curbspace, or use of the full street for both short term events and longer-term public space enhancements. There are a few key changes we’re making to this permit type to provide more opportunities for events and right-of-way activation based on what we’ve learned during the pandemic.

While pre-pandemic this permit type was generally used for short-term events, we plan to allow new types of permit durations including seasonal and full-year permits. We will continue to allow both private and public short-term events as we had pre-pandemic and now allow public seasonal and full-year permits, which will now only have a nominal fee.

What you need to know

Key Permit Details

Updated detailed permit requirements will be available on our permit webpages prior to the conclusion of the temporary Safe Start Program. Provided below are some key details from our current proposal.

  • Maximum participation at any permitted Street and Sidewalk Event may not exceed 300 persons at any one time (larger events may still be allowed in the right-of-way by the city’s Special Events Office)
  • Full street closures under a Street and Sidewalk Activity Permit are typically limited to a single block, multiple blocks will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • Closures on arterial streets or streets with bus or emergency vehicles routes will be considered, but approvals will be case-by-case following consultation with the appropriate departments
  • Structures in seasonal or full-year closures must use durable materials designed to withstand regular use in changing weather conditions. We will also have transparency requirements for visibility into the space
  • We will allow private and public Street and Sidewalk Activities, although private uses are limited to short-term events
  • Individual businesses with private outdoor dining or displays will need stand-alone permits even when located within a seasonal or full-year permitted area.

Application Timeline and Requirements

Applicants interested in obtaining a Street and Sidewalk Activities permit for any period following the end of our temporary Safe Start Program must submit a new application. We will provide further direction on our website in the upcoming months.

Public Comment Period

Public notice requirements vary due to the breadth of activities permitted under the Street and Sidewalk Activity permit. For seasonal, full-year, and recurring events, we will have traditional 2-week public comment periods. For short-term events, the 2-week public comment period is not required. All applicants will need to work with nearby residents and businesses to inform them of their application before the event, as required per standard Street Use procedures under CAM 2117.

Program Costs and Permit Fees

Street and Sidewalk Activity events typically require a partial or full closure of a portion of public right-of-way, benefitting event planners and participants while temporarily inconveniencing those who wish to travel through the space unimpeded, including those who wish to reach local businesses or residences. For this reason, our fee structure differentiates between private and public event applications, using the following definitions:

  • A private closure is for invited guests, customers, or select intended audience only
  • A public closure is open to the public.

Note:Year-Round and Seasonal Street Closures permits are required in addition to the individual permits required of businesses with year-long or seasonal outdoor café and merchandise displays sited within the closure area. Those individual café and display permits incur their own separate fees as noted above.

Fees for an approved street or sidewalk activity permit are delineated by permit type below.

Street & Sidewalk Activities – Year-Round (24/7) – Available only if open to the public

  • Issuance fee
    • $200 for public closures
    • Hourly-rate review fees for secondary review by SDOT and other departmental subject matter experts may be charged when required (Current 2022 hourly rate is $305)

Street & Sidewalk Activities – Seasonal – Available only if open to the public

  • Issuance fee
    • $75
    • Hourly-rate review fees for secondary review by SDOT and other departmental subject matter experts may be charged when required (Current 2022 hourly rate is $305)

Street & Sidewalk Activities – Temporary/Recurring Private Events

  • Issuance fee
    • $910 for all private closures
    • Hourly-rate review fees for secondary review by SDOT and other departmental subject matter experts may be charged when required (Current 2022 hourly rate is $305)
  • Recurrence fee (on same permit)
    • $150 for all private closures

Street & Sidewalk Activities – Temporary/Recurring Public Events

  • Issuance fee
    • $75
    • Hourly-rate review fees for secondary review by SDOT and other departmental subject matter experts may be charged when required (Current 2022 hourly rate is $305)

We are currently accepting feedback on the draft of our proposed Director's Rule which you can find on our Director's Rules and Ordinances page. If you would like to provide feedback please email us at publicspace@seattle.gov by Monday, August 15, 2022.

Updated 08/2021

What is allowed under this permit?

With a street and sidewalk activity permit, your communities or organizations can enliven streets, alleys, or plazas with a variety of activities. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Weddings or parties 
  • Community or neighborhood events 
  • Art walks 
  • Grand Openings

You cannot sell cannabis with this permit. Alcohol sales may be allowed only in certain circumstances when associated with a restaurant. 

Please note: this permit is intended for small and medium-scale events. Events with more than 300 people at one time or more than 99 people in an enclosed/fenced space require a Special Event Permit

Ready to apply?

Submit your application at least 1 month before your planned event. When you are ready to apply, head to the Seattle Services Portal by using the button to the right to login! Note: if you've never used the Portal before, you'll need to register and set up an account first. See this helpful article or video on how to do this. Once you are logged in, follow the steps below: 

  • Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" 

  • Navigate to and select the "Short Term Use" and "Temporary Activation" record type. 

When applying for this permit, you will need:

  • Site plan showing the proposed furniture, tents, and layout of the closure area. Note: One way to prepare a site plan is to use online maps with aerial images. We have an online Traffic Control Base Map that may be useful for you to use to create a base map that you can draw over
  • An email/letter of support from neighbors if you are impacting access to driveways 
  • If your event will be in a Historic/Landmark District, a Certificate of Approval may be required. We'll route information directly to the Historic/Landmark District coordinator and you do not need to apply separately

Depending upon your proposal, you may need to submit additional information such as neighbor notification, a street closure plan, or traffic control plan. Your reviewer will work with you if additional documents are needed.

While we don't require you to upload your Certificate of Insurance, you are expected to have insurance for your event. Review CAM 2102 for details on meeting the City's insurance requirements!   

Notifying Neighbors 

All Street Use permits require public notification. We recommend that you communicate with your neighbors before applying for a permit. Our notification guidelines are found in CAM 2117