City approves permanent outdoor restaurant dining program

The Sacramento City Council voted last Tuesday to make its temporary Al Fresco Dining program permanent beginning July 1, 2022.

Expanded outdoor dining started during the pandemic when indoor dining was shut down. The program had previously been extended to June 30, 2022. Al fresco dining allows restaurants to utilize parking and sidewalk spaces as temporary outdoor dining structures.

The permanent program will allow owners to build formal patios that are sustained through engineered layouts, customizable design options and a streamlined permitting process.

“The new version of this program will make it easy for local restaurant owners to create safe, durable, and beautiful patios in public right-of-way,” City Parking Manager Matt Eierman said.

Staff worked with stakeholder groups to create the design, structural and electrical concepts that are available to restaurants at no cost.

A new permitting webpage is expected to launch on July 1 through Owners will be able to browse and choose engineered layouts, customize the design for their budget and available space and submit an initial interest form.

The City will then work with applicants to formalize their applications. Once the application has been approved, a revocable permit will be issued to allow for outdoor dining within the City’s right-of-way.

The temporary program is extended through June 30, 2023 to allow for restaurants to transition. There are currently 122 restaurants participating.

Staff will return to City Council in the coming months with a formal grant program, using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, to help offset costs of installing outdoor dining facilities for qualifying businesses and establish fees to recover City’s operating costs.

As part of the transition schedule, the City will remove street closures and open pedestrian access in August.