The District encourages restaurants and other qualifying businesses to, wherever feasible, open sidewalk cafés. Since sidewalks are primarily intended for pedestrians as part of the city's transportation network, DDOT reviews sidewalk café applications to ensure that they are welcoming and safe additions to city streets.
Generally, the design of sidewalk cafés should:
- be compatible with the architectural qualities of the adjoining buildings, and
- complement the street movement.
DDOT discourages the design of sidewalk cafés that:
- impede safe and efficient pedestrian passage; or
- enclose the café in a manner that effectively transforms it into indoor floor space.
Procedures & Services
DDOT reviews sidewalk café applications to make sure minimum requirements for clear sidewalks and seating are followed. All public space permit applications should be processed through DDOT's Transportation Online Permitting System (TOPs).
DDOT Sidewalk Café Overview Pamphlet
Sidewalk Café Permits FAQs
- DCMR 10-A410.8: Policy T-2.4.4: Sidewalk Obstructions
- DCMR 10-A913.17: Policy UD-3.1.10: Sidewalk Cafes
- DCMR 24-3: Administrative Procedures for Sidewalk Cafes
- DCMR 24-210: Enclosed Sidewalk Cafes
Design Standards & Specifications
Transportation Plans & Studies