Outdoor dining and shopping can make for an exciting and fun downtown experience. In order to offer outdoor dining and shopping, local businesses must apply for the proper permits. Sidewalk dining and shopping permits are known at the city as R-Permits. The R stands for Revocable and these permits allow for the right to do some sort of activity in the public right of way. They are usually temporary in nature and include strict provisions in order to maintain the permit. They can often take up to one year to get approved.
On November 6th, 2013, the Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of enacting a pilot process to test out a new method for issuing sidewalk encroachment permits for downtown historic core addresses. The new method was devised by the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering earlier this year to minimize the cost of these permits for business owners, and to reduce the number of staff hours needed to evaluate and grant this specific type of permit. Beginning in early 2014 the city plans to implement the new pilot program.
The new pilot process will first run in Downtown Los Angeles’ Historic core. More specifically, this pilot applies to ground floor retail properties located on 1st through 7th between Los Angeles and Broadway which are able to apply for sidewalk dining r-permits with reduced fees and expedited application processing. For properties in the pilot area, the estimated processing time for complete & non-controversial cases could be as little as 1 to 14 days.
This pilot process is slated to terminate in 2016. Therefore, Historic Core businesses are encouraged to take advantage of the new pilot program when it becomes available.
Although the City of Los Angeles is demonstrating initiative to find a better way to issue R-Permits, there are still some details that could cause an applicant frustration. For example, an applicant can be disqualified from taking advantage of this pilot program, if:
●A proposed encroachment is granted and the neighbors complain, the permit is temporarily revoked until the discrepancy is resolved. If the issue is not resolved, the permit is permanently revoked unless the applicant removes fixtures and pays a $7000 deposit to start the application process again on normal timeframes (up to a year).
●Incomplete applications, discrepancies in measurements, and insufficient documentation would be deemed controversial and could potentially cause staff to spend more time evaluating and investigating the site. More staff time = higher fees
The best way to have your revocable permits done right is to use a knowledgeable permit expediter. A good permit expeditor will take the responsibility of tasks like site profiling, application preparation, submittals and reviews, tailoring site depictions that appropriately describe the scope of work.
Permit Place, a Los Angeles planning and permit expediting firm specializing in acquiring permits of all kind for commercial retail uses, has filed many sidewalk permits in Los Angeles. Permit Place is the preferred expeditor partnering with the downtown business community to take advantage of the opportunity presented by this pilot program. Permit Place’s expert planners and experienced permit technicians are have the experience and relationships necessary to get your revocable permits approved in the new pilot program.
As the Historic Core Sidewalk Dining pilot program will only run for two years, Permit Place is making an effort to help as many downtown businesses as possible take advantage of the benefits of having a sidewalk permit. If you are a café or a retailer, talk to a Planner at Permit Place today at 1 (877) 277-4289 to evaluate your R-Permit business strategy at no cost. Permit Place will be visible in the Historic Core, at community meetings and visiting downtown businesses to begin realizing the benefits of storefront & streetscape furniture.
City of Los Angeles, City Council. (2013, August). Report from Public Works: Engineering. Historic Core Sidewalk Dining (Council File No. 13-0658). Retrieved from
Blair Besten, Executive Director, Historic Downtown L.A. Business Improvement District