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City Council recently approved an ordinance to amend Section 12-2121 (Outdoor Seating) of the Raleigh City Code. The new ordinance will take effect this Friday, August 14. A new Outdoor Seating Application has been created and is available in the Development Services Forms Directory.

The new ordinance incorporates the City’s PUPS Handbook (Standards for Private Use of Public Spaces), and includes best practices from around the country as established by the Responsible Hospitality Institute and provisions agreed to by the Hospitality Committee.  The Hospitality Committee was established by the Law & Public Safety Committee formed with representatives from the hospitality industry from Fayetteville Street, Hillsborough Street, and Glenwood South, as well as the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Shop Local Raleigh, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and one resident representative.

One aspect of the new ordinance is the hours of operation for an Outdoor Seating Area. A permitted Outdoor Seating Area may only be in operation while the underlying business is open. In addition, an Outdoor Seating Area may only remain open until 1:00 a.m. on Friday or Saturday nights, or midnight all other nights.

Another component of the ordinance is Outdoor Seating Areas will now have maximum occupancies, similar to their associated businesses. The maximum number of people allowed in an Outdoor Seating Area is based on rules already established by the North Carolina State Building Code and the layout provided by businesses.  The occupancy will be posted on the front of the permitted business by a placard. Outdoor seating occupancy does not affect the indoor occupancy limit of the business. Some other important elements are considered when calculating the total square footage available for outdoor seating, including pedestrian clearances and surrounding streetscape features.

One of the key provisions to the new ordinance is the new enforcement provisions.  The City will now have the authority to enforce the provisions of the PUPS Handbook and against those who are operating Outdoor Seating Areas without a permit.  Enforcement will include multiple City departments, Police, Fire, Zoning, and Special Events as this program requires a team effort to succeed.

Applicants that are renewing permits have until September 8th to submit their applications for Outdoor Seating. As part of the application process, applicants must submit a scaled drawing or site plan of architectural design standard quality illustrating the proposed Outdoor Seating Area boundary and surrounding streetscape covering seven feet on either side. It should include property lines, building frontage, sidewalks, curb lines, lighting, trees, planters, street signs, bike parking, benches, bus stops, and fire hydrants.

Please note that this blog post does not address all aspects of the ordinance. If you would like additional information about it, or the application process, please visit the Outdoor Seating webpage, or contact Martha Lobo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Robert Pearce at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To view the ordinance and/or a slideshow presentation on Outdoor Seating, click on the links or visit the City’s home page and find the article under “News.”

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend.

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