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News Updates

Outdoor Permit Fees Suspended

In response to the evolving needs of businesses adapting to State and County public health orders and to further support economic revitalization, the City of Carlsbad has temporarily suspended the collection of fees for sidewalk cafes, outdoor displays and curb café permits. The suspension of permit fees also means reimbursement to businesses that paid for these types of permits since March 1, 2020.

The city has long allowed for the use of public sidewalks and public on-street parking through sidewalk café, outdoor display and curb café permits. When the pandemic’s public health orders required the closure of indoor operations, the city relaxed development standards to allow businesses to use these permits to quickly activate outdoor spaces on public sidewalks. Some businesses were also granted no-cost permits allowing them to use private property such as their parking lots, to add to their existing outdoor areas. On July 28, the City Council also relaxed standards for curb cafés, allowing restaurants to use up to four street parking stalls to expand outdoor dining, providing more flexibility in approving these permits during the pandemic.

Sidewalk café, outdoor display and curb café permits normally cost a one-time payment of $381 and $1,200 per parking stall per year. These fees are now temporarily suspended until February 28, 2021, or for the duration of the local COVID-19 pandemic emergency, whichever is later.

Type of permit


Private property activation


Sidewalk café or outdoor display


Parking stall used for temporary or long-term curb café


Encroachment agreement processing for activation improvements affixed to the public sidewalk


The city continues to work one-on-one with business owners to find the best solution for their situation. More than 70 businesses have been permitted including restaurants, fitness classes, hair and nail salons, spas and churches, allowing them to temporarily move their operations outdoors onto private property, public sidewalks and on-street public parking spaces so that they can comply with public health guidelines.

Since the beginning of the health emergency, the city has collected between $7,500 and $8,000 in fees for outdoor activation permits issued from March 1 to Aug. 25, 2020. These fees will now be reimbursed to each business. Fee reimbursement and the revenue offset from the suspension of fee collection will be funded from the Economic Recovery and Revitalization Initiative funds set aside for contingency or future city council actions. $175,000 remains for contingency or future City Council actions.

Even with the county now allowing indoor dining, retail shopping or fitness classes, capacity has been reduced by 50% to 90%, depending on the type of business. The city understands that outdoor operations may still be essential for these businesses to stay afloat. Outdoor operations are permitted through the duration of the health emergency.

Supporting local small businesses has been a goal of the city’s economic response and recovery efforts. In addition to suspending outdoor permit fees, other business support includes the approval of $5 million in funding for the Economic Recovery and Revitalization Initiative in May to support businesses affected by COVID-19 and the restrictions in the health orders issued to slow the spread of the disease.

Funding priorities include:

  • $4,400,000 to the small business loan program
  • $250,000 to a joint marketing strategy with the Chamber of Commerce and the Carlsbad Village Association
  • $175,000 to be held as a contingency or for future City Council decisions
  • $50,000 for the city to secure landlord-tenant mediation and renegotiation services
  • $50,000 for relief for the leaseholders of city properties
  • $50,000 to support a shop local campaign – Gift Carlsbad – to provide relief to businesses
  • $25,000 for business community outreach

More information:

September 2, 2020