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COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) information and resources

Outdoor Dining and Retail

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Beginning June 1, outdoor retail sales and dining options will be available to retail stores, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries and wineries that provided sit-down food service prior to the first sheltering order that was issued March 16.  On May 29, Marin County Public Health released guidance for reopening outdoor dining options.

Novato restaurants and retail establishments can begin applying for temporary use of private property and public right-of-way for outside dining and retail by filling out and submitting required applications available below. The City of Novato will begin processing applications as they are received. Prior to filling out the application, please review the following information regarding outdoor dining and retail on public right-of-way and private property which includes insurance requirements, standards for outdoor merchandise display, and standards for outdoor dining and seating.

 


Outdoor Dining and Retail - Public Right-of-Way (Downtown Novato)

Novato Municipal Code (NMC) Section 15 authorizes the City Engineer to negotiate, execute, and administer License Agreements for the outdoor business use of sidewalk areas in the downtown core without obtaining use permits. Business uses of the sidewalk area include: outdoor dining and seating areas for restaurants; merchandise displays; temporary freestanding signs; and improvements such as a bench or planter box.

License Agreements are generally issued for up to one-year terms that expire at the end of each calendar year. Businesses wishing to enter into a License Agreement for the use of the sidewalk area in front of their business must agree to the following conditions:

  • The sidewalk area shall be maintained for safe, unobstructed, accessible pedestrian access to businesses and parking areas at all times in conformance with city, state and federal standards.
  • The licensee will indemnify and hold the city harmless and insure the city against any liability resulting from such uses of the sidewalk.
  • Merchandise displays must comply with the Outdoor Merchandise Display Standards outlined below.
  • Outdoor dining and seating areas must comply with the Outdoor Dining and Seating Standards outlined below.
  • Only one temporary freestanding sign not to exceed six square feet in area per side will be permitted for each business. Temporary signs shall be of professional quality, properly maintained, and placed to avoid trip hazards or obstruction of pedestrian access.

Please note that property owners (or authorized representatives) are required to sign License Agreements in addition to business owners/applicants if the storefront is not owner-occupied. 

Additional Requirements

Outdoor Dining/Retail Insurance Requirements
Standard License Agreement

Questions?

Please email our Public Works Department at pw@novato.org.

Outdoor Dining and Seating Standards
Outdoor Merchandise Display Standards
Onsite Alcoholic Beverage Service


Outdoor Dining and Retail - Private Property

The Novato Municipal Code allows for the outdoor display and sales of merchandise and dining on private property under certain circumstances. In some instances, these activities require permits to be issued, so please review the following information carefully

Temporary Outdoor Dining - Private Property

Temporary Use Permit

The Novato Municipal Code requires issuance of a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) in order to initiate or expand outdoor dining. The City is expediting these requests and deferring fees for these activities that result from COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. Once issued, these TUPs will remain in effect for thirty (30) days following a County shelter-in-place order which allows businesses to resume normal indoor operation or an alternative expiration date as provided for by the City of Novato. 

TUPs require an application to the Planning Division and approval from the Zoning Administrator. A link to the application and requirements can be found below. Please note that property owners (or authorized representatives), as well as business owners/applicants are required to sign the application for TUPs, indicating approval for the business to use their property.

Zoning Districts Allowing Outdoor Dining Areas

Temporary outdoor dining spaces can be permitted in non-parking areas of private property in the following zoning districts where incidental to an existing restaurant: Neighborhood Commercial, General Commercial, Downtown Core Retail, Downtown Core Business, Business and Professional Office, Commercial Industrial, and Light Industrial Office zoning districts subject to securing a temporary use permit.

To request a zoning district confirmation, please email the Planning Division at planning@novato.org. Please include the address or assessor's parcel number applicable to your restaurant's location.

Application Submittal Requirements

  1. A completed application for Zoning/Planning action, including property owner authorization by signature or separate letter.
  2. A written description of the existing restaurant to be served by the outdoor dining area, including hours of operation and seating capacity prior to and after compliance with the Marin County Health Officer’s order.
  3. A graphic describing the location, layout, seating capacity, proximity to walkways and/or vehicle drive aisles/roadways, and any associated temporary improvements (e.g., awnings, covers, furniture, umbrellas, fencing/railings necessary to serve alcohol, or other physical elements) proposed for the outdoor dining area.  Note the location of any entrance/exit serving the restaurant and those of any adjoining business.
  4. A narrative addressing the following questions:

    a. Will alcohol be served for on-site consumption in the outdoor dining area?
    b. Will live entertainment and/or amplified music be provided at the outdoor dining area?
    c. What days and hours of operation are planned for the outdoor dining area?

Review Process, Timing, and Fee

Community Development Department staff will review applications for compliance with the standards noted above and any site specific issues that may warrant additional operating or design conditions. The Zoning Administrator will consider staff’s recommendation and provide a written decision on the application.

Staff anticipates the review process will take one week or less to complete depending on the volume of applications submitted to the Community Development Department. 

Processing fees for a temporary use permit required to respond to COVID-19 health orders have been deferred. 

Application packages may be submitted digitally to planning@novato.org.

Temporary Outdoor Displays and Sales - Private Property

Zoning Districts Allowing Temporary Outdoor Displays and Sales Areas
Temporary outdoor display and sales areas are permitted in the following zoning districts where such an area is incidental to an existing retail business: Neighborhood Commercial, General Commercial, Downtown Core Retail, Downtown Core Business, Commercial Industrial, and Light Industrial Office zoning districts. 

To request a zoning district confirmation, please email the Planning Division at planning@novato.org. Please include the address or assessor's parcel number applicable to your restaurant's location.

Required City Approvals
No City approval is required where a temporary outdoor display and sales area is located on private property in compliances with the operational and design standards below. 

Informational Handouts

Temporary Outdoor Dining - Private Property
Temporary Outdoor Display and Sales - Private Property 

Questions?

Please email our Planning Division at planning@novato.org.

Outdoor Dining and Seating Standards
Outdoor Merchandise Display Standards
Onsite Alcoholic Beverage Service

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