• Email
  • Print

Outdoor Space Activation for Businesses

To help address the reduction of useable indoor space, the city will allow for the temporary use of private parking or common space for outdoor dining, expanded retail space and other business operations. In the Village area, the temporary use of public sidewalks and parking can be considered for outdoor dining, expanded retail space and other business operations. No cost permits have been created specifically in support of temporary outdoor service. City approval is required for new or expanded outdoor operations prior to opening. The Community Development Department has made it quick and easy to apply for a permit. Outdoor activation permits allow eligible businesses to temporarily expand into the following types of outdoor areas:

  • Private property, including off-street parking lots with the property owner's consent
  • Public right-of-way, including sidewalks and street parking spaces (Village area only)

Private property/parking lots

For temporary private property permits, including common space and parking lots, please find the application here. This is no fee for this permit. Once we have a complete application, processing time generally takes a few business days, although more complex ones may take longer. Please include a drawing with your application (hand-drawn is OK). Contact staff for a sample drawing. We are here to assist you.

Sidewalks/outdoor display/curb café (Village Area only)

To support our businesses through the emergency order, the city has created several programs to help businesses activate outdoor space for operations.

The city allows certain temporary uses in the right-of-way subject to a city permit. To propose temporary or regular use on a public sidewalk or within public parking stalls (such as a sidewalk cafe, outdoor display or curb cafe), please complete the right-of-way (use) permit application E-12 and follow the submittal requirements E-12A .

Please note, once the city receives a completed application, right-of-way use applications take approximately five to six days to process to get a permit.

Relaxed Standards
The City Council voted to relax standards for sidewalk cafes and curb cafes on July 28, 2020. For curb cafes, this allows restaurants in the Village area to temporarily use up to four on-street parking stalls (previously up to two stalls) to expand outdoor dining.

Sidewalk cafes may expand across other business fronts, subject to business approval. 

Regular curb cafes are still limited to two parking stalls and regular sidewalk cafes must be only in front the business. The relaxing of standards is set to expire once the emergency order is lifted.

Suspension of fees
The City Council voted on Sept. 1, 2020 to suspend the collection of fees related to sidewalk cafes, outdoor displays and curb café permits. This ‘fee holiday’ is set to expire at the end of the local COVID-19 emergency. Businesses are encouraged to take advantage of this fee holiday before the collection of fees resume.

For more detailed information about expanding outdoor areas, refer to the council memorandum.

Tent permit

If you propose to construct a tent/canopy, depending on the size, a permit is first required from the Fire Department. The application for a tent permit can be found here.

Heating and fire safety guidelines for tents and canopies can be found here.

Ready to submit or have a question?

To temporarily activate outdoor space, please complete and send your private property or right-of-way permit application to outdooractivation@carlsbadca.gov.

Contacts for questions

Once your application is submitted, we will keep you informed throughout the permit process. Once you have your permit, you may temporarily expand your operations outside, subject to state and local health orders. We are here to support and assist you during these challenging times.