The Publicly-Accessible Temporary Outdoor Seating Area (PATOSA) permit aims to respond to the increased demand for publicly-accessible outdoor spaces created by the COVID-19 pandemic. PATOSAs are differentiated from TOSAs as PATOSAs are not intended for the private use of one specific restaurant and are intended to remain fully accessible to the general public. This permit allows for the creation and/or the enhancement of publicly-accessible seating areas that are located on property that is privately or publicly owned or controlled. Enhancements include, but are not limited to, any elements associated with utilization of such seating areas during all seasons and weather conditions, such as tents, canopies, and heating elements.
Arlington County has outlined an expedited, administrative process to review and approve PATOSA applications.
Eligibility & Types of Permitted Spaces
- PATOSA permits may be permitted to allow for the following:
- Creation and/or enhancement of new or existing publicly-accessible seating areas that are managed by a private entity but are publicly-accessible through a permanent easement.
- Creation and/or enhancement of new or existing publicly-accessible seating areas on County-owned and/or managed plazas and open spaces.
- Creation and/or enhancement of new publicly-accessible seating areas on County-owned and/or managed property that temporarily changes the nature of the property’s primary intended use (parking space, sidewalk, street, parking lot, or similar). Please note that because these proposals temporarily change the nature of the property’s primary intended use, such as limited or full modification to or closure of streets, curb space and parking lanes, and sidewalks, an analysis of the impact of this change may be necessary. For this reason, additional information from the applicant may be requested.
- Private property that does not allow public access are not eligible.
- Existing outdoor seating is not a prerequisite.
Design and Operation Requirements
Proposals to establish a Publicly-Accessible Temporary Outdoor Seating Area will follow and administrative process based on the following guidelines.
- All elements of the PATOSA must be fully accessible to the public. Direct commerce in designed areas not allowed unless otherwise allowed by County ordinance. Applicant understands and agrees that the PATOSA is not for the exclusive use of the applicant. Seating is available to the public on a first-come-first service basis, and applicant shall not exclude certain persons or businesses from using the PATOSA. This restriction shall not apply to applicant requesting law enforcement assistance in dealing with unruly, violent or destructive patrons, or otherwise requesting the enforcement of any applicable laws.
- In addition to the PATOSA requirements, applicants must abide by all federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including the Uniform Statewide Building Code, the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, all applicable Health Department laws and regulations, ADA requirements, and all County Ordinances and regulations not modified, waived, or suspended under the Continuity of Governance Ordinance.
- Applicant is responsible for installation, maintenance and removal of temporary seating and other elements
- Permanent elements of the existing plaza or open space must not be removed or made inaccessible, unless through the permit application there was an explicit trade-off of existing and enhanced seating elements for the purposes of public health or circulation
- All elements shall not impact any utilities, parking meters, signs, street lights, trees, and landscaping elements.
- Umbrellas, canopies, or awnings shall not hang over adjacent clear paths designated for public circulation.
- If the plaza is adjacent to public sidewalks, public sidewalks must maintain a minimum of six feet for accessible pedestrian passage.
- Proposed modifications must not impede existing fire lanes, access, egress, FPF, hydrants, etc.
- Tables and other group seating structures (picnic tables, cabanas, etc.) must be spaced at least six feet apart.
- Seating areas and individual seats must be clearly defined. Tables without clearly defined seats will not be allowed.
- Structures shall be temporary in nature and not affixed to the ground or adjacent buildings; however temporary structures may be used to winterize existing permanent furniture elements.
- Permits are valid until the County determines otherwise. They will be subject to periodic review, and may be terminated at any time, especially if detrimental impacts to other uses in the public eased area, neighboring properties, or the broader community cannot be effectively mitigated.
- To the extent the applicant wishes to establish a PATOSA on a site owned or controlled by the County, the applicant shall comply with all County requirements to gain access to the site, including but not limited to entering into any necessary agreements with the County and obtaining permissions from any additional property owners.
Review Process and Approvals
PATOSAs will be administratively reviewed and will not require approval by the County Board.
- The County will issue a temporary approval in an expedited timeframe.
- Erection and use of the PATOSA and/or weatherization structures may begin after the County completes the review process and a permit is issued to the application.
- Applicants will receive a permit by email.
The County is not charging any fees to review and process PATOSA applications.
Expiration and Terminations
- PATOSA Permits may be revoked at any time for non-compliance with PATOSA Operation Requirements.
- Arlington County’s PATOSA Permits are valid until the County determines otherwise. They will be subject to periodic review, and may be terminated at any time, especially if detrimental impacts to neighboring properties and the broader community cannot be effectively mitigated.