General Guidance

Sidewalk tables and chairs facilitate residents coming together outdoors to dine, meet and rest (and add eyes to your streets). As a tool for placemakers, tables and chairs add instant street life, under the right conditions.

Below provides guidance for bringing tables and chairs to the streets by a restauranteur, neighborhood group or resident. Note that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, streamlined permitting may be available. For all outdoor furnishings, remember to purchase tables and chairs appropriate for inclement weather, ensure sufficient staffing is available for daily deployment and oversight for moveable furnishings and prepare a maintenance, repair and replacement plan.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has created new and more streamlined permits related to seating. Click here for information about how street space, sidewalks, and parking lanes can be used for seating as part of business operations.

Permits + Permission

Tables + Chairs Location Permissions / Permitting / Process
Restaurant Tables and Seating
  1. Review requirements for Cafe Tables & Chairs Permit
  2. Obtain permit
Sidewalk Benches + Seating (fronting property owners)
  1. Obtain fronting property owner permission / determine maintenance responsibilities
  2. Review requirements for Minor Sidewalk Encroachment Permit requirements
  3. Obtain a permit
Sidewalk Benches + Seating (commercial corridors) Along commercial streets, streetscape furnishings are often managed by Community Benefit Districts (CBD) – contact the managing CBD to request additional furnishings and learn more about potential streetscape design projects that may include future installation of tables and chairs. 
Plazas Rules and regulations for deploying tables and chairs varies by plaza location / owner. Refer to the Permit Summary by Location table to determine the correct jurisdiction to contact.

Note: At high level (like Plazas) reference how these projects are advanced at a corridor level (through CBD or streetscape planning process)

Resources

Benches & Seating (SF Better Streets)
Plaza Materials Catalogue (refer to furnishings)