Main Street Activation

Image of a sidewalk patio with two tables, covered in tablecloths.

Based on input from Old Bellevue Merchants’ Association (OBMA) and other local restaurants and retailers, the City of Bellevue is supporting patio dining on Main Street this summer by allowing temporary expansion of sidewalk cafés into select on-street parking spaces. The program is designed to support local restaurants while maintaining public health during a period of significantly down revenue and capacity restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the “Stay Healthy Street” on NE 5th Street, it would serve as an amenity for neighborhood use by those within walking, rolling, or biking distance. 

The City has worked closely with the OBMA and others to balance the interests of the many stakeholders on Main Street and in Old Bellevue. Street use proposals are ultimately subject to City approval under right-of-way use guidelines.

The City of Bellevue will allow restaurants in Old Bellevue with sidewalk cafés to apply to expand their outdoor space into select on-street parking lanes.

Main Street will remain fully open to traffic, but select parking lane areas in Old Bellevue may be closed to vehicles and opened to patio dining and retail use on a limited basis until early September. The goal is to balance the needs and interests of the many stakeholders on the street, while recognizing the serious challenges facing restaurants and retailers in particular due to "Safe Start" capacity restrictions.

How do I apply?

Restaurants and retailers interested in taking advantage of expanded patio space should reach out to City staff for more information and to get started.

How long will these extensions be in place?

Right now, the City anticipates permitting sidewalk café extensions into select on-street parking areas until early September.

Can retailers apply for street uses?

While we envision this program being of most benefit to restaurants, and some incidental sidewalk use by retailers is already allowed, retailers are welcome to reach out with ideas.

Would alcohol be served in temporary extended patios?

Existing restaurants could apply with the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) to modify their liquor licenses to allow table service in extended patios (similar to allowances for sidewalk patios).

Would there still be provision for curbside pickup?

Yes. The City would maintain limited space for pickups and drop-offs, including along 102nd Ave NE and potentially on Main Street itself. The goal is to balance the needs of many stakeholders on the street and in Old Bellevue.

Would residents still have access to their homes?

Yes. All parking garages for apartment and condo buildings along Main Street will remain accessible.

How will people get to Main Street?

Given the restrictions under the “Safe Start” plan, this would be meant as a neighborhood program. As such, the OBMA and the City would encourage nearby residents to walk, roll, bike, or use public transit to access Main Street.

Why not close the whole street?

While the initial proposal would have closed sections of Main Street to vehicle traffic, the City's goal is to balance the needs of the many stakeholders on the street. Old Bellevue is home to restaurants, retailers, services businesses, and thousands of residents. This option provides additional space to restaurants without the need to close the street.

Do I need to wear a face covering to access downtown businesses?

Yes. In compliance with local and state public health orders, face coverings or masks must be worn while on Main Street or in local businesses.

Would Main Street remain accessible to those with mobility concerns?

Yes. The City’s Right of Way team and the has carefully developed plans to ensure access to all. Additionally, sidewalks would remain accessible during the program.

Would there be music or amplified sound?

No. In keeping with the “Safe Start” guidance which does not permit gatherings, live or amplified music would not be allowed during the program. Additionally, in line with existing regulations for sidewalk patios, restaurants would be required to end service at 10pm to limit nighttime noise.

How much notice will I receive about a parking lane closure?

In line with City requirements, at least 72 hours of notice will be given for the closure of on-street parking stalls.

Could I propose a similar program elsewhere in Bellevue?

In general, yes! The City has developed a set of tools for retailers, restaurants, and property owners to adapt their operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here.

City staff will work with directly with eligible restaurants to share additional details on the application process and next steps.

Businesses interested in applying for extended patio space should review the city's Sidewalk Café Guidelines and Street Use Permit requirements, and reach out to City staff for more information. We will provide assistance with the application and walk you through the guidelines. Our intention is to provide permit review times of under one week, though complicated locations may require additional time.

  • Sidewalk Café Guidelines and Conditions. This document explains the general guidelines and requirements for sidewalk cafés.
  • On-Street Dining Application Process. This document explains the application and review process for on-street (i.e. parking lane) dining.
  • On-Street Dining Permit Conditions (Draft). This document explains the permit conditions and requirements for issuance of an on-street (i.e. parking lane) dining permit.
  • Traffic Control Plan (Draft). The city's Right of Way team has developed a draft Traffic Control Plan, which assumes that all eligible parties participate in the activation project.
  • Sample Site Plan for a Sidewalk Café. On the second page of this document is an example of a complete site plan for a sidewalk café, illustrating all of the dimensional and other requirements. Note that you need not submit a full architectural work-up. The relevant section of this document is boxed with a red outline.