Port Shared Spaces Program

Shared Spaces graphic

Use Port outdoor space for your business

Temporary permit to use Port outdoor space for business operations, like seating, dining, or retail pickup.


Permit details

This temporary permit is valid until December 31, 2020. 

It can be revoked.


A minimum 6 foot-wide travel path required 

You must keep a straight, clear travel path at least 6 feet wide, and in some areas along the Waterfront, 12’ – 16’ may be required.  

If you do not have enough sidewalk space, you may apply to use nearby open space for business.

What to do

You may apply to use Port Outdoor Space, such as:

  • Sidewalk
  • Plaza
  • Pier
  • Wharf
  • Parks*
  • Parking Lane*
  • Street*

*These spaces may require additional review

For outdoor business, you cannot use:

  • Traffic lanes (for bikes or cars)
  • Bus stops
  • Red or blue curb zones

You may apply to use outdoor space, and we will work with you to find a space near your business.


1. Review our rules

All outdoor business use

You must follow City rules to use space in front of your business:

  • Follow physical distancing protocols
  • Display a copy of the permit during business hours
  • Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the SF Better Streets Plan
  • Keep curb ramps, doors, driveways, fire escapes, or Fire Department connections free of obstructions
  • Keep furniture in the approved area
  • Don’t place or store food trays or carts on the sidewalk or parking lane
  • Keep the parking lane and sidewalk clean of trash, debris, and food waste at all times
  • Don’t obstruct the sidewalk next to a bus stop or blue curb zone

Additional sidewalk and promenade rules

  • Make and maintain a straight, clear travel path at least 6 feet wide across your entire sidewalk. In certain locations a clear travel path at least 12’ – 16’ feet wide may be required
  • Provide and use approved diverters
  • Keep furniture and diverters clear and free of advertising
  • Bring in furniture and diverters at closing every day

Additional parking lane seating rules

All outdoor business use under the Jurisdiction of BCDC 


Port properties on piers and within 100 feet of the shoreline are subject to San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development (BCDC) permit requirements. For COVID-19 restaurant or retail reopening, the key BCDC focus issue is to minimize reduction of, or impacts on, public access areas; this includes the Embarcadero Promenade, portions of Jefferson Street, waterfront parks (e.g. Rincon Park, Brannan Street Wharf, Agua Vista Park, Pier 43 Promenade) and wharf areas that have been designated for public access use. The waterfront is a valuable public resource for many activities, and the Port must work to ensure all visitors and users have a safe way to engage the waterfront during this pandemic.

Any outdoor dining application and site plan on piers over water or within 100 feet of the shoreline will be reviewed by BCDC. Where outdoor dining is proposed within public access areas, BCDC is focused on balancing the dining need with reasonable public access needs of the area; high traffic public access areas will need more sidewalk/public access space than lower traffic areas. All site plans must include a measured width of the pathway that will remain clear and unobstructed for public access.

Review Process

BCDC will review application and site plans within 3 days, and render approvals, or approvals with conditions.  Port staff is working to support and facilitate this BCDC review and approval process while producing the license agreement. Operators should be prepared to accommodate refinements in the dining plan if determined necessary by BCDC.

Requirements and Standards

Port and BCDC staff have worked together to provide these requirements and standards to facilitate review and approval of COVID-10 outdoor dining proposals within BCDC’s permit jurisdiction:

  • Outdoor dining furniture is limited to tables, chairs/seating, umbrellas and stanchions or similar to define dining area boundary.
  • Dining furniture must be portable and temporary, moved indoors or out of public access areas when business is closed. 
  • Limit tables directly adjacent to water
  • If tables are adjacent to water, discourage single-use items; If single-use items then provide a debris/litter solution
  • No heaters, tents or enclosures will be approved at this time.  
  • Outdoor dining areas should be adjacent to restaurant but avoid locating in public access areas if possible. 
  • Use parking areas or non-public access areas if possible and feasible with your operations.
  • Do not close off public access area in entirety; place dining in locations that do not block access to public access or open spaces
  • Allow sufficient circulation to support public access by non-customers. 
  • The City’s Shared Spaces program sets potential minimum requirements but proposals in high traffic locations will require wider walkways (e.g. Embarcadero Promenade).
  • Provide measured width of pathway/public access adjacent to the dining area boundary, which will be reviewed by Port and BCDC.
  • Create ground marking or other visible measures to define dining areas vs. public access, customer queuing and social distance indicators/signage

For more detailed information, see the Outdoor Space Guidelines.


2. Decide how to use your space

You can use the sidewalk or parking lane for:

  • Social distancing space for your customers to stand in line
  • Seating or dining
  • Retail use

You may use your parking lane as a curbside pickup area for cars.

If you want to use a parking lane, measure how many feet along the curb you want to use. 

If there are parking spaces, count how many metered parking spaces you will use.

If you want to use the parking lane for seating or dining, count how many tables and chairs you will use.

During the application, you will be asked to upload a site plan. On that site plan please include the following:

  • Location and footprint/boundary of proposed dining area
  • Indicate any known public access areas affected
  • Location of tables and chairs 
  • Note total number of tables and chairs
  • Note size of tables being used
  • Location of any trash management receptacles, diverters, stanchions, planters, or retail fixtures

For Curbside Pick Up Requests, please apply to for a Port No-Stopping Permit


3. Talk to your neighbors to use their space

If you want to use space in front of a neighboring property, get permission from the property owner or tenant.

If they agree, you will need to upload a screenshot or scan of their written permission with your application. 

We will also need their name and location address.


4. Check and prepare your insurance documents

At a minimum, Port requires Commercial General Liability, Auto Liability, Workers Compensation and Liquor Liability in the amount of $1,000,000.  All liability insurance policies shall name as additional insureds by written endorsement the "CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO AND THE SAN FRANCISCO PORT COMMISSION AND THEIR OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES AND AGENTS” and coverage shall be primary and non-contributory.  Additional Insured and Waiver of Subrogation are also required.  Port’s insurance requirements to provide to your insurance broker.

You must upload these insurance documents when you apply. Take a picture or scan these documents:

  1. Insurance Certificate (must include GL, Auto, WC, Liquor)
  2. Additional Insured Endorsement for GL
  3. Additional Insured Endorsement for Auto
  4. Waiver of Subrogation Endorsement for GL
  5. Waiver of Subrogation Endorsement for Auto
  6. Waiver of Subrogation Endorsement for WC
  7. Liquor Liability Coverage (if not covered under GL)*
  8. Additional Insured Endorsement for Liquor (if not covered under GL)*
  9. Waiver of Subrogation for Liquor (if not covered under GL)*

You may have to ask your insurer to provide these documents directly and email them to SharedSpaces@sfport.com with the subject line reading: “[name of business] Insurance Documents”


5. Apply

We will ask you about:

  • Your contact information
  • Your business location and information
  • How you will use the space

You will also upload your site plan, insurance documents, and agree to your responsibilities.

Apply Here

You will receive confirmation and a copy of your application and information about what to do next.


For Curbside Pick Up Requests 

We will have you apply through the Port’s No-Stopping Permit Program. You will be redirected to the MTA site. 

Apply Here


6. After you apply

If you applied to use outdoor space, we will review and respond within 3 business. We will contact you if we find issues with your application or insurance documents. You must provide and use diverters.

If you applied to use a parking lane, park space, or a street, you may not start using this space, and we will email you within 3 business days with next steps. After you get your permit, you must provide and use traffic barriers or diverters before using the outdoor space.


7. Reporting

You must provide site photos of expanded service areas within the first week of reopening, please email those to sharedspaces@sfport.com


Special cases

Serving alcohol

This permit does not allow you to serve alcohol outdoors.

If you want to serve alcohol in your outdoor space, apply for a COVID-19 temporary catering authorization with the California State Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

Business with multiple locations

If your business has more than one location, you must apply for each location individually.


Operate your business during the coronavirus pandemic