The Future of Outdoor Dining (FOOD) Study will examine which aspects of the more flexible TOSA program should be incorporated into Arlington’s existing approval pathways for permanent outdoor cafés:
- Outdoor cafés on private property are eligible for administrative approval per the Zoning Ordinance requirements.
- Outdoor cafés proposed within public rights-of-way (or other public spaces) require County Board special exception use permit approval.
Applicable guidelines and regulations for outdoor dining may vary based on these variables. Given the public interest, outdoor cafés in public rights-of-way generally face stricter requirements. This approach helps ensure sidewalks continue to serve mobility needs of the public or recreation needs of those enjoying public spaces and aims to protect other community interests and avoid adverse impacts.
The FOOD Study will look at lessons learned from the TOSA experience and identify recommended amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and Outdoor Café Guidelines to strike an appropriate balance between commercial resiliency and public and community interest. Additionally, this study will identify and address other potential changes to how the use of public land for cafés may best be managed and seeks possible improvements to the approval processes.
Certificate of Occupancy building permits outline the requirements currently needed for a private outdoor café per the Zoning Ordinance. Learn more.