On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Board of Supervisors amended the Zoning Ordinance to allow accessory outdoor dining associated with food establishments, such as restaurants and craft beverage production establishments. Integrating outdoor dining into the county's regulations has the potential to enhance the pedestrian experience, activate street-level environments and contribute to the vibrancy of commercial areas.
Drawing lessons from innovative measures undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new amendment builds on the success of the Uncodified Ordinance adopted in July 2020, which allowed businesses to adapt to restrictions on indoor gatherings by allowing outdoor dining in parking lots with minimal regulatory oversight. Due to positive community response for the implementation of the Uncodified Ordinance, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to explore ways to extend the outdoor dining program beyond the COVID-19 emergency.
Key Highlights of the Approved Amendment
Definition: The new definition classifies outdoor dining as an accessory use intended for the consumption of food and beverages, served by an adjoining food establishment. All tables, chairs, umbrellas, lighting and other accessories associated with the outdoor dining must be temporary and removable. This definition and the associated standards do not apply to any permanent structures or enclosures, which are considered part of the principal use and require site plan and building permit approval.
Permitted Zoning Districts: Allows outdoor dining in all zoning districts where a food establishment is permitted as an accessory use, unless expressly prohibited by any applicable proffered condition, development condition, or special permit or special exception approval.
Size: Continues to allow outdoor dining on impervious areas, with a cap of 50 percent of the indoor dining floor area.
Access: Ensures outdoor dining areas do not obstruct emergency egress, ADA accessibility, building entrances/exits or pedestrian passages.
Permit Requirement: Requires an Administrative Permit for outdoor dining in parking lots, subject to a one-time application fee of $205.
Hours of Operation: Aligns outdoor dining hours with the business hours of the principal use.
Parking: No additional parking requirements for outdoor dining.
Tents: Any tent proposed in the outdoor dining area is required to comply with the Fire Code, which requires that any single tent larger than 900 square feet or multiple tents separated by less than 12 feet and exceeding a combined area larger than 900 square feet obtain a permit from the Office of the Fire Marshal.
The new regulations are in effect now with a grace period until April 30, 2024, to allow existing outdoor dining areas to come into compliance with the new standards.
For more information, visit the Outdoor Dining Zoning Ordinance Amendment webpage.