Pedestrian Friendly Code Directory: Outdoor Dining
Why is this important?
Dining outdoors is very inviting to many people, and outdoor dining can turn an area into a pedestrian and community destination. Sidewalk cafés and restaurants create a lively street environment, and can limit crime because so many people are keeping an eye on each other. When an area feels active and safe, residents and visitors are more inclined to be outside late into the night.
Communities can promote outdoor dining by expanding sidewalks, adopting zoning ordinances that define outdoor dining as an allowed use, and ensuring that the dining areas and surrounding areas provide safe pedestrian environments.
San Diego and Montgomery take two different approaches to enlivening the pedestrian environment through outdoor eating.
San Diego’s code does so by permitting sidewalk cafes within indicated zones. Sidewalk café furnishings must be movable or affixed to adjacent buildings. The decision to allow a sidewalk café in a given location is discretionary; major factors in the determination include the effect on pedestrians’ right of way, and the ability of the café to make the area more attractive to pedestrians and increase pedestrian traffic.
Montgomery’s zoning code allows for food vending by sidewalk vendors. Having found that “[v]ending on the public sidewalks promotes the public convenience by contributing to an active and attractive pedestrian environment,” the code creates a specified vending district wherein vending is permitted, requires vendors to be licensed, and restricts sales to food and non-alcoholic beverages.
A. 2) Vending on the public sidewalks promotes the public convenience by contributing to an active and attractive pedestrian environment. B. 1) Vending districts means the zone or area specifically designated for sidewalk vending. 2) Cart means any portable vending device, pushcart, or any other wheeled vehicle or device which may be moved without the assistance of a motor and which is not required to be licensed and registered by the Department of Motor Vehicles, used for the displaying, storing or transporting of articles offered for sale by a vendor, and which does not exceed four feet in width, six feet in length, excluding trailer hitch or handle bars, and five feet in height, excluding canopy or cover. A cart that is towable by means of a trailer hitch is permitted provided it does not exceed the aforementioned size limits. D. Permitted merchandise. No merchandise shall be sold by a vendor from a cart in a vending district except the merchandise approved. Permitted merchandise shall be limited to food and non-alcoholic beverages….
Sidewalk cafes may be permitted with a Neighborhood Use Permit in the zones indicated with an “N” in the Use Regulations Tables in Chapter 13, Article 1 (Base Zones) subject to the provisions of this section. (a) The decision maker will evaluate the following to determine if a sidewalk cafe is a suitable use for the proposed site and will not infringe on the use of the public right-of-way by pedestrians: (1) The width of the sidewalk; (2) The design and relationship of the cafe to other existing or planned uses in the vicinity; (3) The amount of pedestrian use and the impact of the cafe’s location on pedestrian activity; and (4) The ability of the cafe to fit the character of the area, create an outdoor pedestrian plaza, intensify pedestrian activity, and make the street activity more attractive. [¶¶] (i) The furnishings of the interior of a sidewalk cafe shall consist solely of moveable tables, moveable chairs, and moveable umbrellas. Landscaping may be placed in moveable planters or planted in the ground inside the delineated cafe area adjacent to the barrier. Lighting fixtures may be permanently affixed to the front of the main building.