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Little italy outdoors 3-151

Under the relaxed rules, many businesses without existing permits for outdoor operations or seating can register free of charge to expand their operations outside in privately owned outdoor areas, such as a parking lot, and use public sidewalks for temporary seating.  The temporary rules go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 5, 2020 and last through Dec. 31, 2020, unless the local emergency ends earlier or the City reinstates existing regulations.

Businesses already operating outdoor seating/dining do not need to apply - their existing permitting still applies. Restaurants must follow the County's outdoor dining guidance.


If you have questions, email us at

San Jose extends SJ Al Fresco concept to allow “parklets” for dining, shopping

On June 26, 2020, San Jose’s City Manager signed an Emergency Order to streamline the application process for parklets for retail and restaurants, effective 12:01 am, June 27. The temporary relaxation of rules will last through December 31, 2020, unless the local emergency ends before this date, or the City reinstates existing regulations.  (Link to Emergency Order) 

 The Emergency Order relaxes some regulations help businesses in the City by allowing for the expansion of dining and retail operations into on-street parking spaces while complying with mandatory social distancing requirements set forth by the County. (link to Protocols). Any business allowed by the County to open may apply if they are located on a street in commercial areas with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH or less. There is no fee for applying.

What is a parklet?

 A parklet is defined as the repurposing of vehicle parking spaces within the public street in front of a business’ property so they can be used for outdoor dining, with or without table service, retail operations, and customer and general public seating. A parklet is separated from vehicular traffic by temporary physical barriers, which will be supplied and installed by the City, at no charge to the business. (Link to Terms & Conditions)

Difference between these and existing parklets

These emergency-order parklets differ from existing parklets, such as the one outside the Garden Theater on Lincoln Avenue:

 The Emergency Order does not require businesses to construct a platform for the parklet to be flush with the curb and will be able to place tables and chairs directly on to the street surface.

  1. Businesses also will be allowed to operate in areas of the parklet beyond their business’ frontage with the written consent of the neighboring business owner, which is not normally allowed.
  2. The Emergency Order allows retail businesses to operate their businesses from parklets, which is not allowed by the current Parklet Program, provided that no retail operations may be conducted on the public sidewalk adjacent to the parklet.
  3. The parklets created under the Emergency Order are intended to be larger, unbroken areas along commercial streets, rather smaller parklets that only serve individual businesses. Therefore, the City will prioritize parklets in locations where there is substantial local business support for repurposing on-street parking
  4. Ideally, the City would like to be able to approve a continuous set of parking spaces blocked temporarily to provide restaurant or retail customer service outdoors for one or a series of contiguous businesses.

Streamlined Parklet Application

The application process for parklets has been streamlined and fees have been waived Businesses can apply for parklets by clicking on “Apply for Parklet” below.

Businesses must continue to comply with applicable laws in operating outdoors, including County Health Orders. Only businesses allowed to operate under applicable law are eligible to take advantage of the relaxed rules.


On Friday, June 5, 2020, Santa Clara County allowed restaurants in the county to open for outdoor dining and in-store shopping, among other activities, subject to social distancing and health requirements. To enable businesses to reopen while maintaining compliance with the County’s Order and Social Distancing Protocol, the City Manager, in his capacity as Director of Emergency Services, signed an Emergency Order on June 4, 2020 relaxing rules to allow many businesses throughout the city without existing permits for outdoor operations or seating to expand their operations outside to public sidewalks and in privately owned outdoors areas such as parking lots. Details on this initiative and the link to register for immediate use of a sidewalk or a parking lot, see the information about, on Al Fresco.



UPDATE - ABC licenses and Al Fresco

San Jose’s relaxation of rules on permitting outdoor dining on parking lots and sidewalks (San Jose Al Fresco) included provisions for businesses who wanted to serve alcohol as part of their foodservice in these new areas. These businesses would either be covered for outdoor patio service by their existing Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) license OR would be required to apply for a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit from the State of California ABC. 

Since the City Manager signed the Emergency Declaration that went into effect on June 5, we have learned that ABC is unable to provide such permits because the Order from Santa Clara County allowing Phase 2 openings does not align with the State’s requirements for re-opening, which require the County to achieve and report specific and sustained improvements in the County’s COVID-19 case and death statistics.  

Currently, the County is working with ABC to resolve this issue. 

At this time, the following are still permitted under our “al fresco” relaxation of City regulations: 

  1. Restaurants with existing ABC licenses covering both inside and exterior patio areas are allowed to provide food and alcohol service on their patio areas.
  2. Restaurants with ABC licenses for their indoor facility only may continue to provide curb-side alcohol service, until the State and County are aligned and ABC can issue a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit.
  3. Restaurants with ABC licenses for indoors may register to open foodservice on adjacent parking lot or sidewalk area, but may NOT serve alcohol on those outdoor areas, until the State and County are aligned and ABC can issue a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit
  4. All retail allowed to open under the County Order that became effective June 5 may continue to register to conduct customer operations in parking lots and/or sidewalks, as initially described. 


Below are  links to two separate registration forms – one for use of private property such as an adjacent parking lot,  and one for use of a public sidewalk.

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Biz Op Reg

Sidewalk Seating