City Announces Summer Street Use Permit Opportunities To Support Neighborhood Activation And Business Reopening

In an effort to encourage residents and businesses to use Seattle’s streets this summer, Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is reminding people about the City’s existing and upcoming free Street Use permits starting in June. With current and upcoming free permitting options, residents can make space in their neighborhoods for play and communal activities such as barbecues and block parties. And the recent extension of the Safe Street permits offers restaurants, retail stores, and others a terrific opportunity to increase their capacity by using the curb space or sidewalk during the warm summer months.  

“Over the past year, Seattle has faced daunting challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis.  As we move to the new normal, we are finding ways for community to enjoy our streets in a safe and new ways,” said Mayor Durkan. “The Seattle Department of Transportation programs and permits such as Stay Healthy Streets, the Safe Start permits, block party, and play street permits will encourage our residents and businesses to create vibrant streetscapes around the city.” 

The following programs and permits are currently available. There are no permitting-related fees associated with these permits:

Block Party / Play Street Permits: residents and community-based organizations can close a residential street to make more room for fun and play up to 3 days a week, for a maximum of 12 hours per week during daylight hours. For residents who live on a Stay Healthy Street, driving is already limited, and Street Closed signs are in place so no permit is needed. Simply notify and invite your neighbors to join in the fun between the hours of 9AM to 9PM. 

Safe Start Permits: temporary permits for outdoor cafes, merchandise displays, vending locations, and street closures are a terrific opportunity for restaurants, retailers, and other businesses to expand their operation by using the adjacent street and sidewalks. Additionally, fitness gyms and studio owners may now apply for one of our permits to use the public right-of-way for activities and classes. These permits have been extended to May 31, 2022.  

“We are thrilled that the City has offered our local restaurant owners free permits to bring our “Summer Streets” outdoor dining plaza to life in the U District” says Don Blakeney, Executive Director of the U District Partnership. “With the help of SDOT, we have been able to close NE 43rd Street and introduce bright-colored tables, umbrellas and outdoor programming in the heart of our commercial district where the light rail station will open in just a few months.” 

“Since the pandemic began, we have been guided by our values at each stage of our response to the crisis. By reimagining how we use Seattle’s streets and sidewalks, we created space in our neighborhoods to provide residents and businesses opportunities during a challenging time,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation. “People were able to enjoy physical activity and recreation safely and restaurants and retail stores could increase their operations while following public health guidance. As we move to the next stages of our recovery, we’re excited by the possibilities for better integration of the public right-of-way into the fabric of our communities.”   

Coming this summer, residents or organizations will be able to enliven streets, alleys, or plazas with a variety of activities. Examples include, but aren’t limited to Weddings or parties, Community or neighborhood events, and Art walks.  

Additionally, SDOT will be expanding options for businesses that do not have a brick-and-mortar store by supporting retail and craft vending in the right-of-way with a free temporary permit.