Open & Out Business Program

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Open & Out: Temporary Closure and Programming of Fourth Street

A collaboration between the City, Santa Rosa Metro Chamber, Creative Sonoma, Downtown Action Organization, area businesses, and some local sponsors, this project provides the opportunity within the confines of the health orders to use public space creatively to come together and find new ways to embrace our community while supporting our downtown.

Dubbed “Open & Out”, the 3-block closure will be designed to allow dining for adjacent participating restaurants as well as walking and gathering spaces for individuals and small same-household groups on Fourth Street and in the Square. Elements of the project include:

  • Alfresco dining with onsite service, pick-up or to-go options
  • Additional seating options
  • Sanitation and trash stations
  • Art elements from local artists – funded and curated by Creative Sonoma and Santa Rosa Public Art Program, and a grant from the NEA.
  • Free and reduced garage parking; street parking options with incentives to use the mobile app
  • StreetPlus ambassadors to help with security and cleaning
  • North-south streets (B St., Mendocino Ave., Hinton, Exchange, D St., and E St.) will remain open to through traffic, and for parking and deliveries.
  • Fire and life safety access will be maintained throughout closure area.

Logistics of Open & Out Program 

To create additional outdoor space the City will allow the use of public and private outdoor spaces, such as parking spots, select street locations, and sidewalks to allow for the safe reopening of outdoor dining at Santa Rosa’s restaurants (and eventually the broader business activities (as allowed by the Sonoma County Public Health Orders).

The City has developed a phased plan to expand outdoor seating options in three ways:

  1. Temporary Sidewalk Seating on public and private sidewalks Allowable immediately assuming sidewalk width can accommodate, and criteria elements can be met.
  2. Parklet Pilot Program (use of curbside parking areas) on public streets and private parking lots Allowable immediately if criteria below are met.
  3. Temporary Closure and Programming of Fourth Street between B Street and E Street (expected to start by July 10)

Permit Submittal: The application is simple and quick and should be submitted digitally through the City’s online encroachment permit submittal portal.

Questions may be directed to the Economic Development Division at [email protected] or 707-543-3080.

Business interested in outdoor seating can also learn more about the requirements by reading about guidance on fulfilling DA requirements as well as the process for public seating on private property

Temporary Sidewalk Seating

Tables, chairs, and all related accessories that are placed on public or private sidewalks that are intended for customer seating and/or consumption of food or beverage by patrons of an adjacent eating establishment are allowed so long as:

  • Accessibility is maintained
    • with 5’ of unobstructed pass through space;
    • in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  • all fire safety standards are adhered to;
  • any moveable furnishings are secured or removed during non-business hours;
  • and if in a private right of way (e.g. a strip mall) the property owner approves of the use.

Full Guidance Document

Parklet Pilot Program

This program allows restaurants the ability to create a temporary dining space within the street curb area that replaces one or more parallel, perpendicular, or diagonal parking spaces. Ideally a platform will be built to bring the level of the sidewalk out into the street to accommodate accessibility. This will be a requirement of a permanent parklet program, which will be established in the near future. In the meantime, for compliance with the Sonoma County Health Order that requires social distancing and eliminates or reduces indoor restaurant seating, restaurants are allowed to extend their outdoor dining and/or useable space into the street. An overview of requirements that apply to the pilot parklet program within the curb area include:

  • maintenance of accessibility in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  • if the restaurant is on an active public street, the speed limit of the street must be 25 mph or less and not a major thoroughfare;
  • allow access to underground utilities if needed;
  • account for proper drainage;
  • all furnishings and any barriers/partitions/etc. meet fire standards, and other fire safety requirements are adhered to fire safety standards;
  • no bolting or anchoring anything to the roadway surface, gutter or curb;
  • any moveable furnishings are secured or removed during non-business hours; and
  • if in a private right of way (e.g. a strip mall) the property owner approves of the use.

Full Guidance Document