Updates on City of San José Services and/or Operations . (English | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文)

San Jose Al Fresco FAQs

 Parklet Questions & Answers

What if I already have a permit for a parklet – can I apply for more space if I get my neighboring stores together?

Yes, you can apply for additional space, and the City would look favorably on applications that are submitted for sets of contiguous stores wanting to share the parking spaces that are in front of their businesses.

How is this different from the existing application for a parklet permit?

This is a temporary permit and is free of charge.

I want to set up a display area for my store’s products, can I use the parklet for that?

You may use the parklet are for product display, so long as the sidewalk right-of-way is not impeded

What if none of my neighboring businesses want to join me?

We invite all interested businesses to apply – the goal is to help businesses recover and to create interesting and appealing shopping opportunities.

What are the specific limitations for having a temporary parklet?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

What is the cost to apply? What does it cost to set up a parklet and who pays for it?

There is no fee for application, and the City will provide barriers and cover the costs of installation

What regulations does my business have to follow in order to serve customers in a parklet?

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. In addition, businesses must operate under the Social Distancing and other health-related Protocols established by the County for their specific type of business.

Am I restricted to using only the space(s) in front of my store for a parklet?

If you get the permission from neighbors on either side of your store, you can apply for a larger parklet area.


Al Fresco Questions & Answers

I thought the new County order allows outdoor dining. So what’s this all about? 

This allows restaurants and foodservice business not previously permitted for outdoor dining to do so, quickly, free and for a limited time. It allows outdoor seating on sidewalks for other kinds of businesses. We are also allowing foodservice and non-food-related businesses to conduct their operations in private parking lots. Check out the order here.

What kind of business can apply to use adjacent outdoor space?

For sidewalk dining or seating: Any ground floor business that is currently allowed to operate or that will be allowed to operate under the new County health order, subject to any additional city, state and/or federal limitations or requirements. Broadly, this includes restaurants, cafes, other food establishments, all retail, pet grooming, schools and childcare businesses among many others. Check the Santa Clara County public health website for details. and the County restaurant reopening guidance

On a paved, private parking lot: Any business classified under the categories listed below in Table 20-90 of the City of San Jose’s Zoning Code and that is currently allowed to operate or that will be allowed to operate under the new County health order, subject to any additional city, state and/or federal limitations or requirements.

1. General Retail Education and Training
2. Entertainment and Recreation, except Relocated Cardroom
3. Food Services
4. General Services
5. Health and Veterinary Services, except Animal Grooming
6. Offices and Financial Services
7. Public, Quasi-Public and Assembly Uses
8. Sale, Vehicle Parts only within the category of Vehicle Related Uses

What will getting this temporary access to outdoor space cost me?

Application for this permission is completely free of charge, with no waiting time

When do these new relaxed rules expire?

December 31, 2020 or when we are no longer deemed to be in a local state of emergency, whichever occurs first.

Can I serve alcohol in my new outdoor dining space?

If your facility already has an outdoor space and you hold an ABC license to serve alcohol in the outside area, you can open service of food and alcohol in that area.  If you are expanding foodservice to the sidewalk or in a private parking lot, you currently can’t get the temporary ABC license for the additional area.   

If you are licensed to serve alcohol indoors at your facility and want to temporarily expand food and alcohol service to a private parking lot and/or public sidewalk area, at this time ABC can’t issue the temporary catering license. This is an issue between the County and ABC, and we hope it will be resolved soon.

At this time, the following are 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 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 an adjacent parking lot or sidewalk area, but may NOT serve alcohol on outdoor areas, until the State and County are aligned and ABC can issue a Covid19 Temporary Catering Authorization permit

All retail businesses 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.

Does this temporary program mean that I can set up tables and chairs in the parking spaces, the bike lane or street in front of my business?

No. The only areas that are covered in this phase of San Jose Al Fresco are public sidewalks and privately-owned paved lots. The City is considering additional opportunities for outdoor dining and other operations in streets, parking spaces, parks, plazas and paseos but that has not yet been implemented.

What happens if I leave my tables and chairs out after the temporary rules expire?

If you want to continue to have outdoor/sidewalk operation after the temporary rules expire, you will have to apply for a permit through the City’s regular process.

I am a dog groomer, can I move a grooming station on to the sidewalk if I apply?

Non-foodservice businesses can only utilize sidewalk space for seating/waiting purposes. Check the County Order  and the guide to what types of businesses can re-open on June 5.  

I am a manicurist, and I could move my table outside, can I apply?

No, because your business has not yet been allowed by the County to reopen. See the guide to what types of businesses can re-open on June 5.

What if I already have outside seating for my café?

You’re all set! Just be sure you are following the County’s Social Distancing Protocol and restaurant-specific guidelines for outdoor dining

What can the City do if my landlord doesn’t want to give permission to use their parking lot?

It is entirely the landlord’s prerogative.

I operate a food truck – if I get the owner’s permission, can I set up chairs and tables in a parking lot? 

 No. Only bricks-and-mortar food establishments are covered under this emergency order.  However, food trucks can operate if they have an existing approved Planning or PD permit and if their host business on the property has also re-opened under the most recent County Order. County Health requirements and Social Distancing Protocols for Food Truck operations must be implemented.

What if the area next to my store isn’t paved, it’s just dirt?

The parking lot must be fully paved.

How much of the parking lot can I use, and can I pack in as many tables as I want, since it’s outdoors?

Your area of operations cannot extend farther than 125’ from the face of your building, take up no more than 50% of the available parking spaces, and be at least 50’ from any residential property. Your outdoor business area can not utilize existing ADA parking spaces or block any existing ADA-related improvements.

Do I need to notify the residents around my business if I’m going to set-up outdoor dining in a private parking lot?

The City’s registration process does not require you to notify surrounding residents, but we suggest that you do so out of courtesy to your neighbors. The City will respond to complaints received on businesses conducting outdoor operations outside of the parameters of the temporary rules. Reaching out your neighbors is likely to cut down or eliminate any complaints they might have.

How long do I have to wait to find out if I am allowed to set up my stuff outside?

Once you have completed the online registration form, you will receive a confirmation email, and you are ok to start outdoor operations and/or seating.

How much of the sidewalk can I use?

You must leave at least 4’ wide and 7’ high area clear for pedestrian access, and use only the area along your business frontage. The terms and conditions have all the details.

What certification or documents are needed to apply?

For sidewalk use, you must submit an updated Certificate of Insurance, naming City as additional insured.

For parking lot, your application must include written permission from your landlord and a site diagram, along with proof of authorization from CA Alcohol Beverage Control to sell alcohol if you will be serving alcohol in your outdoor business area.

If there is a curfew, must I close up my business outside when the curfew starts?

Yes, you can’t be open during a curfew. If there is no curfew in effect, but your existing city permit allows you to serve past the time specified in these new temporary rules, you must cease outdoor service at the time in the Emergency Order – e.g., 10 pm.