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. 

On July 16, 2020, the City Council added personal services and fitness studios to the types of businesses that are allowed to apply for a temporary outdoor use permit. Follow the steps below to understand your options and apply.

On September 8, 2020, the City Council extended the program expiration from September 17, 2020 to February 28, 2021. 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 apply for the usage of parking spaces in a public parking plaza or on-street parking spaces in addition to the options available citywide. 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. Uses shall not encroach into the through travel lane, except from 4:00 p.m. on Friday through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
Additional construction requirements
  • Submit a site specific sketch of the work 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.

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)
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.