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Zoning Tools
Sidewalk Cafes

Zoning Text | Zoning Maps | Zoning Districts | Zoning Tools | About Zoning | Glossary

Zoning Tools: Sidewalk Cafes


A sidewalk cafe is a portion of an eating or drinking establishment that is located on a public sidewalk. There are three categories of sidewalk cafes – enclosed, unenclosed and small sidewalk cafes. An enclosed sidewalk cafe is a sidewalk cafe that is contained within a structure. An unenclosed sidewalk cafe is open to the sky, and contains readily removable tables, chairs or railings, with no overhead coverage other than umbrellas or a retractable awning. A small sidewalk cafe is an unenclosed sidewalk cafe containing no more than a single row of tables and chairs in a space no greater than 4½ feet from the property line, with no barrier between the café space and the sidewalk.

The Zoning Resolution regulates where sidewalk cafes are permitted in Article I, Chapter 4. They are generally permitted in Commercial Districts other than C3 Districts, Manufacturing Districts with certain exceptions, R10H Districts, and certain Special Purpose Districts. Sidewalk cafes are prohibited where there may be clearance or pedestrian conflicts, on selected streets listed in PDF Document Section 14-41. Enclosed sidewalk cafes are also not permitted on the streets listed in PDF Document Section 14-42. Small sidewalk cafes are allowed on certain streets pursuant to PDF Document Section 14-43, subject to the underlying zoning. Sidewalk cafes are only allowed in the Special Districts listed in PDF Document Section 14-44.

Physical and structural criteria for enclosed sidewalk cafes are regulated by zoning, such as minimum sidewalk clearances, clearances from large obstructions, and transparency requirements. Additional physical and design criteria for all sidewalk cafes, including unenclosed sidewalk cafes, are regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). DCA is responsible for reviewing and licensing all applications for sidewalk cafes.




The Zoning Reference provides only general zoning information and is not meant to serve as a substitute for the actual regulations which are to be found in the Zoning Resolution.

Zoning Text | Zoning Maps | Zoning Districts | Zoning Tools | About Zoning | Glossary


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Brief explanations of terms in green italics can be viewed by clicking on the term. Words and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) are defined terms in the Zoning Resolution, primarily in Section 12-10. Consult the Zoning Resolution for the official and legally binding definitions of these words and phrases.

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