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City of Lakeland Temporary Outdoor Expansion Dining + Retail Activity

*** This temporary policy will sunset and expire at 11:59 p.m. August 31, 2020, unless extended by the proper authority based on State and Local legislative actions. ***

In concert with the Governor’s Executive Order and plan for reopening Florida, the City of Lakeland has created the following guidelines to temporarily allow restaurants and retail businesses to expand their business footprint onto the public right-of-way or in privately owned parking facilities without meeting certain City code and permit requirements. For more information call 863.834.6011


  • Temporary Outdoor Dining + Retail Activity on Private Property (Sidewalks + Parklets)

    Businesses may expand dining and retail areas to certain areas of private property not typically permitted for business activity, such as private outdoor areas and parking lots.  Restaurants and retail establishments with access to private sidewalks or private parking may utilize these areas for dining or retails services, in accordance with the safety guidelines outlined below, provided the consent of the landlord or property-owner is obtained.

  • Temporary Outdoor Dining + Retail Activity in Public Rights-of-Way

    The City of Lakeland is allowing restaurants and retail businesses to expand operating space in designated portions of the public rights-of-way. These areas are limited to all sidewalk areas and adjacent on-street parking spaces (if available) on local roadways. State roads are excluded from this program as the City does not regulate State rights-of-way. A map depicting which streets are locally owned is attached.  To participate in the program, minimum life safety requirements and Americans with Disability Acts (ADA) must still be met as described in this document.  It shall be the responsibility of the business to ensure that these requirements are maintained at all times the business is operating within the public right-of-way.

  • Outdoor Dining + Retail Activity on Private Property

    Private Parking Lots Up to 50% of on-site private parking spaces counted for required parking may be converted to outdoor dining or retail space, when the lot is immediately adjacent to the subject dining or retail establishment. The converted use must be in conformance with all Building Code requirements for accessibility, and social distancing requirements that provide at least six feet spacing between tables and pathways. Additionally, no parking for disabled persons may be repurposed for restaurant or retail use. The required landscape and buffer areas for the off-site private parking spaces (Vehicular Use Areas), shall not be used as an expanded converted use for restaurants or retail operations. There shall not be parking, outside seating, or retail activities in these areas.

  •  Use of Parking Spaces on Private Property

    Up to 50% of required on-site parking spaces may be converted to outdoor dining areas or retail space to expand the footprint of the business operation. The converted use must be in conformance with all Building Code requirements for building accessibility and social distancing requirements which provide at least six feet spacing between tables and pathways. Additionally, no parking for disabled persons may be repurposed for restaurant or retail use.

  • Tents and Other Shade Structures on Private Property

    Tents that are ≤120 square feet (10’ x 12’) may be erected in parking spaces to provide shade for the dining area with no permit.  No more than two (2) such tents shall be adjoined without a permit.

  • Setbacks on Private Property for Temporary Structures and Fixtures ONLY

    Temporary placement of equipment such as wash stations and hand sanitizing stations or stations for staff set up and service do not need to meet required yard setbacks. Any permanent structures being proposed shall require a permit as normal.

  • Temporary Outdoor Dining + Retail Activity in Public Rights-of-Way (Sidewalks + Parklets)

    Restaurants and retail businesses may expand dining and retail operations onto all sidewalks and on-street parking spaces (parklets) on City Roads within the Parking Exempt Area east of Florida Avenue in downtown, provided the applicable requirements described below are met.

  • Sidewalks

    Sidewalk activation for restaurants and retail businesses have typically required Sidewalk Café Permits. The City of Lakeland will allow businesses to temporarily use sidewalks, subject to the conditions in this document, for additional restaurant seating or retail purposes.

  • Expanded Sidewalk Requirements for Restaurant & Retail

    Businesses utilizing City rights-of-way shall comply with the following requirements during this temporary period. Operational requirements for Sidewalk Cafes shall generally apply to all private business operations including retail establishments.

  • General Requirements:

    Outdoor café seating and retail operations within sidewalks and public rights of way shall maintain:

    • Adequate pedestrian flow of at least 6 feet;
    • Unimpeded access to public utilities, building entrances, crosswalks, bus stops, and transit shelters;
    • Pedestrian and traffic safety; and
    • Aesthetic compatibility with the surrounding area.
  • Location Requirements
    1. The width of the sidewalk café or retail space is restricted as follows:

      1. The width shall not exceed the width of the sidewalk frontage of the subject property. However, the area of the permit may be extended up to a maximum of fifty (50) feet on one (1) side of the subject location, subject to the provisions of subsection b. of this section.
      2. The sidewalk café or retail area may extend by a maximum of fifty (50) contiguous feet in the public right-of-way on one (1) side and/or the other side of the private property so long as the property directly abuts the public right-of-way. Adjacent businesses shall coordinate with one another

    2. A clearly marked, unobstructed, and durable pedestrian right-of-way, also known as the "pedestrian path", that meets required accessibility standards, of no less than four (4) feet shall be maintained for each sidewalk café area and shall adhere to the following standards:

      1. The minimum distance of said path shall be measured from the portion of the sidewalk café/retail space boundary which is nearest either the curb line or the nearest obstruction.
      2. In no event may recesses in the sidewalk café/retail space boundary be used to satisfy this unobstructed width requirement for said path, except that the corners of the sidewalk café/retail space may be rounded or mitered.
      3. Sidewalk cafés/retail spaces shall maintain a clearance of four (4) feet around the corners of other sidewalk cafés measured in radius. 
    1. The pedestrian path shall maintain a minimum of four (4) feet from large obstructions. No tables, or chairs, umbrellas, or other fixtures shall be permitted within six (6 feet of a pedestrian crosswalk or corner curb cut.

    2. Access to fire hydrants, fire hose connections for sprinkler systems, and entrances and exits of all buildings shall not be obstructed at any time by barriers or seating. Fire lanes shall not be obstructed at any time. There shall be a minimum of forty (40) inches in distance separating the edge of a table or chair to a fire department connection. 
    1. No object shall be permitted around the perimeter of an area occupied by tables and chairs which would have the effect of forming a physical or visual barrier discouraging the free use of the tables and chairs by the general public or which would have the effect of obstructing the pedestrian path. 
    1. The operational hours of the space shall be restricted to the adjacent business operating hours.
  • Construction; Signage; Maintenance and Umbrellas
    1. Appropriate lighting of the sidewalk café/retail space is required if operating outside of daylight hours.

    2. Use of landscaping and planters is permissible, however these materials should not be permanently affixed to any public rights-of-way.

    3. Use of removable barriers to define the sidewalk café is permissible.

    4. No heating, cooking or open flames are permitted in the sidewalk café.

    5. No food preparation, plastic food displays, food storage, or refrigeration apparatus shall be allowed on the public right-of-way.

    6. Umbrellas and other decorative material shall be fire-retardant, pressure-treated or manufactured of fire-resistant material. No portion of an umbrella shall be less than six (6) feet, eight (8) inches (eighty (80) inches) above the sidewalk.
  • City of Lakeland Right to Clear Right-of-Way

    The City reserves the right to remove a sidewalk café/retail space that (i) creates an obstruction to, or causes congestion of, pedestrian or vehicular traffic due to existing conditions on the surrounding public right-of-way if it finds the installation represents a danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the public (ii) a business violates the requirements of this policy. The City may require the removal, temporary or permanent, of the sidewalk café/retail space when redevelopment of the street or sidewalk, or utility repairs necessitates such action, or the permittee fails to comply with the outlined criteria. Any costs incurred by the City for removal or storage of sidewalk café tables, chairs, and other equipment shall be the responsibility of the business. The city is not responsible for any damages or loss of equipment removed pursuant to this subsection.

  • Parklets & Pickup/Delivery Spaces

    On-street parking spaces potentially provide additional opportunity for use as expanded outdoor seating or retail display (parklets) or for repurposed short-term parking to aid in pickup and delivery of meals.  These spaces, generally within the boundaries identified on the map below, may be used for either parklet or short-term parking, provided the adjacent restaurant or retail business owner petitions, and receives advanced approval from the City of Lakeland’s Parking Services Division. 

    Map of Parklets and Pickup/Delivery Spaces in Downtown Lakeland

  • Temporary Removable Barrier Materials

    Temporary barrier materials, such as those depicted below, can be utilized to better define boundaries of extended business operations. Any equipment or furniture placed in the parklet parking space cannot be placed closer than 2 feet from the edge of the adjacent travel lane. Safe pedestrian pathways between barrier walls must be provided. For questions relating to barrier wall placement, please call the Parking Services Division office at 863.834.6303.

    Temporary barrier examples: jersey, straw, painted plastic, wood, tire plant, plant

  • Business Responsibilities for Street Activations

    It shall be the responsibility of the business to activate the spaces described in this section with temporary materials such as tables and chairs, umbrellas, and visual/physical barrier materials as needed per site-specific conditions. Maintenance (daily upkeep, litter cleanup, etc.) associated with business operations shall also be the responsibility of the business.

  • Use of Tents or Shade Structures on Sidewalks or On-Street Parking Spaces

    The following requirements shall apply to use of tents or shade structures within public spaces:

    • The maximum size tents that may be placed within sidewalks and parking spaces will be ≤120 square feet (10’ x 12’).
    • No staking of tents is permitted in public rights-of-way.
    • All tent legs must be secured.
    • For maximum safety, tents should be secured as soon as they are put up, and brought down as soon as weight is removed. Do not leave unsecured tents at any time.
    • Smoking is prohibited under tents and shade structures.
    • Tents must not have closed walls in place while open to the public, and all sides should be open for airflow.