Temporary outdoor use permits

On June 19, 2020, the City Council adopted an urgency ordinance to help support and reactivate local businesses by temporarily allowing expanded dining and retail options on the sidewalk, in on-street parking spaces, public parking plazas and/or privately-owned shopping areas and parking lots. The program was subsequently reviewed and revised on July 16, 2020, September 8, 2020, October 6, 2020, and February 23, 2021. Program revisions included:
  • Extending the program expiration several times, currently through January 31, 2022;
  • Adding personal services and fitness studios uses that can apply for temporary outdoor services; and
  • Modifying the roadway closures and allowing temporary business use of the roadway within the closed segments.
There is no fee to apply for this permit. 

What can you do?

All businesses in Menlo Park can apply to use space on a sidewalk or in privately-owned shopping areas or parking in a private lot, subject to certain conditions. Businesses in downtown* may also apply for the usage of public parking plaza spaces, on-street parking spaces and (where applicable) closed roadways. Potential uses for these temporary outdoor spaces can be dining, retail, personal services and fitness.

*Downtown is defined as the area bounded by El Camino Real, Oak Grove Avenue, Menlo Avenue and University Drive

1. Understand requirements

All outdoor business spaces will be required to do the following:
  • Receive a temporary outdoor use permit
  • Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Follow all applicable local, County and State health orders
  • Provide all the materials and equipment needed for the use
  • Keep materials and equipment in the approved area
  • Maintain a clear path at least 4 feet wide on the sidewalk
Additional parking plaza/private parking lot requirements:
  • Install traffic barriers that are not easily moved, altered, or stolen; and are stable and sturdy enough not to fall over or be pushed over to withstand 250 lbs. of force to separate outdoor area from vehicular traffic (water-filled Jersey barriers are allowed).
  • Cannot utilize accessibility or electric vehicle designated parking spots.
Additional on-street parking requirement (if not within closed portion of Santa Cruz Avenue)
  • Install traffic barriers that are crash-rated (e.g., k-rail) or otherwise approved by the City to separate outdoor area from vehicular traffic. If assistance obtaining barriers is needed from the City, please note the request in the application. 
  • Use of the on-street parking spaces shall be limited to the striped dimensions of the parking stall areas. 
Additional construction requirements
  • Submit a site specific sketch of the work proposed
  • Provide additional specifications if roofed structures (including temporary tents), lights, heaters or similar features are proposed 
  • Contractors must have a Menlo Park business license
  • Contractors must have a State contractor’s license to work in the public right-of-way
  • If the construction will obstruct the flow of pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular traffic for a significant amount of time, a traffic control plan adhering to the Menlo Park traffic control guidelines may be required.

2. Talk to your neighbors

Businesses applying for space in the public right-of-way adjacent to another business must obtain consent from that business. Businesses applying for space on private property that is adjacent or used by another business must obtain consent from all tenants affected or the property owner. Examples include private parking lots shared with other businesses and public space immediately surrounding a neighbor. Once neighbor approval is obtained, it will be valid through at least the permit expiration date that is in effect at the time of the authorization. 

3. Prepare insurance documents

Businesses proposing to use the public right-of-way (e.g. sidewalks, public parking plaza and on-street parking spaces) will be required to name the City of Menlo Park’s officials, agents, employees and contractors as additional insured.  Review the certificate of insurance guidelines needed for submittal with your application. The liability insurance policy shall include a contractual liability endorsement providing insurance coverage for the Permittee’s agreement to indemnify the City. Businesses applying to use private property only, with no use of the public right-of-way, are exempt from providing the insurance documents.

4. Apply

You will need the documents above (situational requirements, insurance and neighbor consent) as well as the following:
  • Contact information
  • Business location and information
  • Space usage information (i.e., site plan, photos, specifications)
More information on submittal requirements

Apply online

Note: You will need an account with the City's Permit and Record Web PortalTo register, click on either of the "Register for an Account" links and follow the prompts. Once registered, applications for temporary outdoor use permits can be found under Planning.

5. After you apply

You should receive a response on your application within 48 to 72 hours. Once approved, businesses are able and encouraged to use their temporary spaces immediately.