Sidewalk Use Permit

A Sidewalk Use Permit is the approval by the City for non-exclusive use of the public right-of-way for a private activity.  Any time an individual or business would like to use the public right-of-way to support a private use, a Sidewalk Use Permit is required. The most common types of Sidewalk Uses are sidewalk cafes associated with food service establishments and A-frame signs or merchandise displays associated with retail businesses. There are also provisions in the City Code to allow residents to install electric vehicle chargers in the right-of-way, when there is no way to provide it on their own property.

This approval process it not new, but was streamlined  at the end of 2017 to make the application and approval process faster and easier for residents and businesses. Application intake for this revised process will begin on January 8, 2018. Application forms can be found here.

Why Does The City Require a Permit?

These permitting requirements have been established to protect public safety and accessibility. The City is responsible for ensuring that all of the City’s residents and visitors can enjoy public spaces. In order to do this effectively, we need to know where sidewalk uses are located and City agencies need to verify that those uses do not conflict with clear paths of travel on sidewalks or public uses already on the right-of-way. 

Restrictions

A-frame signs and display devices are prohibited in the French Quarterexcept that these items may be authorized on N. Rampart Street subject to approval of the Vieux Carre Commission.

The following standards and criteria shall be used in reviewing the application and design drawings to determine if the proposed location is suitable and will not obstruct free and proper use of the public right-of-way:

  1. The sidewalk shall be of sufficient width to accommodate the proposed sidewalk use while maintaining a clear path of travel (>8 feet in most cases) that is:
    • At least four (4) feet in width on sidewalks of 8 to 10 feet in width.
    • At least six (6) feet in width on sidewalks greater than 10 feet in width.
    • In areas of congested pedestrian activity, the reviewing agencies are authorized to require a wider pedestrian path to ensure the free and proper use of the right-of-way by pedestrians.
  2. A clearance of 10 feet shall be maintained between any element of a sidewalk use and a fire hydrant, or fire department sprinkler/standpipe connection.
  3. A clearance of 10 feet shall be maintained between any element of a sidewalk use and a public transit pole or taxi (CPNC) stand.
  4. Sidewalk uses are restricted to the area immediately adjacent to the business/residence being served and may not project in front of neighboring businesses or vacant lots.
  5. Sidewalk uses shall not be located within the corner area of a public right-of-way, which is that area between the curb and the lines created by extending the property lines of the adjacent property being served and the curb.
  6. Tables, chairs, umbrellas and any other objects provided with the sidewalk cafe shall be of sufficient quality, design, materials, and workmanship to ensure the safety and convenience of users, and to enhance the visual and aesthetic quality of the urban environment.
    • Umbrellas, and other decorative elements shall be fire retardant, pressure-treated, or manufactured of fire resistant material and not interfere with the free and proper use of the sidewalk.
    • Within local control historic districts, the jurisdictional agency may provide standards or guidelines that shall be applied to determine the visual and aesthetic the suitability of proposed elements of the sidewalk café.
  7. Commercial uses seeking approval of an A-Frame Sign or display devices shall be limited as follows:
    • Commercial uses shall be permitted no more than 1 a-frame sign per street frontage occupied by the commercial use.
    • Commercial uses shall be permitted no more than 2 display devices per street frontage occupied by the commercial use.
    • A-frame signs and display devices shall be prohibited in the area bounded by the Mississippi River, the uptown side of Esplanade Avenue, the riverside of N. Rampart Street, and the downtown side of Iberville Street, except that these items may be authorized on N. Rampart Street subject to approval of the Vieux Carre Commission.
  8. The sidewalk use shall be permitted no closer than 18” from the edge of the roadway, unless otherwise approved by the director of the department of public works.

Sidewalk Cafés

Any food or beverage service business is authorized to request a Sidewalk Use Permit for a sidewalk cafe. However, please note that the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance does not allow sidewalk cafes at non-conforming bars in residential zoning districts unless the location is within a Residential Diversity Overlay.

  • The capacity of an approved sidewalk café shall not exceed the approved seating capacity indicated on the approved site plan and as stated on the permit placard.
  • Tables and chairs associated with an approved sidewalk café shall be structurally sound and maintained in a manner ready for access and use by patrons.
  • Sidewalk Café permittees shall wash the sidewalk daily and at the close of business or, if open 24-hours, at the close of the sidewalk café element of the business.
  • No live entertainment, speakers, or other sources of amplified sound shall be permissible on or adjacent to the approved sidewalk café.
  • Carts, receptacles for waste or dirty dishes, and cooking appliances shall not be placed or stored on any portion of the sidewalk.
  • Tables, chairs, and any other components of the approved sidewalk use shall be neatly stacked and organized at the end of each business day, at the hour indicated by this Division, in a manner which will result in minimal intrusion into the public right-of-way.
  • All property/building ingress and egress where a sidewalk cafe exists must remain unobstructed (including queuing lines) for clear, barrier-free pedestrian passage, consistent with the fire department regulations and ANSI standards for barrier-free access.
  • Hours of operation:
    • Seating within the sidewalk café shall not begin before 8:00 a.m.
    • Unless otherwise provided in this Section, seating within the sidewalk cafe shall end no later than 10:00 p.m.
    • In the area bounded by the Mississippi River, the Pontchartrain Expressway, South Claiborne Avenue, and Canal Street (inclusive of uses which front on both sides of Canal Street), seating within the sidewalk café shall end no later than 12:00 a.m.

Operational Standards

The City Code provides requirements for the operation of any permitted commercial sidewalk use in addition to the restrictions on placement. If the use is a sidewalk cafe, additional standards will apply.

  • The Sidewalk Use permit shall be conspicuously displayed on the exterior wall or window of the main entrance of the licensed establishment of which the approved use is accessory.
  • The approved sidewalk use plan shall be posted in the same location and manner as a city issued occupational license and/or alcoholic beverage license.
  • The arrangement and number of tables or other approved items authorized by the Sidewalk Use Permit shall not be modified or altered without the approval of the director of the department of safety and permits.
  • All furniture and fixtures shall reflect the approved site plan and may not be substantially changed, altered, added to or reduced without the approval of the director of the department of safety and permits.
  • No portion or element of an approved site plan may be secured through bolting or otherwise fastening any table, chair, bench, fixture, or other device to a public sidewalk, post, sign, tree, or similar feature.
  • The permittee shall keep the portion of the sidewalk not approved for commercial use pursuant to a Sidewalk Use Permit free of obstruction(s) at all times.
  • The sidewalk area adjacent to a commercial establishment  that is issued a Sidewalk Use Permit shall be maintained in a neat and orderly appearance at all times and the area shall be cleared of debris or litter on a periodic basis during the day and again at the close of business each day.
  • A-Frame signs and displays are only permitted to occupy the right-of-way while the validly licensed business is open to the public.   All components shall be removed from the right-of-way at the close of each business day.

Fees

  • Application fee: $50.00
  • A-Frame Signs, Display Devices, or other approved items: $200.00 per item.
  • Sidewalk Café:
    • In the area bounded by the Mississippi River, Poland Avenue, St. Claude Avenue, McShane Place, N. Rampart Street, Canal Street, S. Claiborne Avenue, Pontchartrain Expressway, St. Charles Avenue, Broadway Street, Maple Street, S. Carrollton Avenue, Oak Street, to the Mississippi River, inclusive of both sides of bounding streets: $350.00 per table (up to 4 seats), or $100.00 per seat for tables seating more than 4.
    • All other areas: $200.00 per table (up to 4 seats), or $75.00 per seat for tables seating more than 4.
  • All permits are valid for one (1) year from the date of issuance; the annual permit fees are the same as the initial issuance fee.  

Required Documents

  • Application
  • A plan on 8 1/2" X 11" paper or in digital format. This plan does not need to be to scale, but had to show exact dimensions of entire sidewalk abutting the property. This plan must include an outline of the area to be occupied by the sidewalk café, a-frame sign, or display, as well as all existing encumbrances with measurements on the public way including, but not limited to, parking meters, fire hydrants, bike racks, light poles, and trees. A written narrative may accompany the plan.
  • Photographs depicting the proposed site where the sidewalk use will be implemented and the relationship between the proposed sidewalk use and the surrounding public right-of-way.
  • Images, renderings, or photographs of the furniture or fixtures to be utilized as part of the requested sidewalk use.
  • Copy of the applicant’s current occupational license as well as current copies of any Mayoralty Permits and Alcoholic Beverage Outlet Licenses, if applicable.
  • Commercial: Proof of commercial general liability insurance with limits of not less than $500,000 per occurrence/$1,000,000 aggregate combined single limit for bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage liability. The insurance shall name the City of New Orleans as an additional insured, and shall provide for 30-days prior written notice to the department of safety and permits if coverage is substantially changed, cancelled, or not renewed.

Contact

Apply by email using outdoordining@nola.gov

Service provided by
1340 Poydras Street Suite 800 New Orleans, LA 70112

9am—5pm
Monday—Friday