During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Bellevue supported local businesses by providing additional outdoor space for restaurants and retailers to accommodate social distancing. Based on overwhelming positive feedback (see survey results), including from many residents who expressed a desire to see "al fresco" options persist beyond the emergency as a permanent fixture, the city is committed to providing long-term support to restaurants offering outdoor dining.
We are also working with our partners at the Bellevue Downtown Association and the Old Bellevue Merchants' Association to support marketing for the outdoor spaces and expand use of public rights of way for activation, placemaking and events.
For outdoor dining spaces on public right-of-way (streets and sidewalks), you must obtain a Street Use Permit to ensure your plans comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, fire code, and stormwater and other requirements. Bellevue allows three types of outdoor dining in the right-of-way:
- Sidewalk café: An outdoor dining area on the sidewalk with table service; seating is available to restaurant patrons.
- Sidewalk seating area: An outdoor dining area on the sidewalk with no table service; seating is available to everyone.
- On-street dining area: An outdoor dining area in an on-street parking lane, with or without table service.
Outdoor dining on private property is treated a little bit differently.
If the space you want an outdoor dining area was originally permitted as a patio space, then no additional permit is required.
If the space you want an outdoor dining area was originally permitted for a different use (such as parking, as an open plaza, or as a grassy area), then you have two options:
- Periods of up to 90 days: A Temporary Use Permit allows you to reallocate space to outdoor dining for a limited period of up to 90 days, and allows amenities like overhead canopies and electric heat.
- Periods of greater than 90 days: Contact our Land Use team for more information. The specific approval pathway will depend on the scale and features of your specific proposal.