Visalia allows restaurants to operate on sidewalks and parking spaces

The City of Visalia announced Tuesday that restaurants may apply for temporary conditional use permits for outside areas in light of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to shut down indoor operations in restaurants because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The conditional use permits would allow restaurants to use portions of the public right of way – which includes sidewalks and parking spaces – for dining and takeout service. 


Visalia is able to take this step because of the emergency declaration passed by the city council earlier this year. 

“We want to do our part to help our local restaurants quickly adapt to the changes that have been put in place surrounding the restriction of indoor dining,” said Visalia City Planner Paul Bernal in a statement.

“Since Tulare County is on the list of counties that can only allow takeout, delivery or outdoor dining, this ordinance will better serve our restaurants and our community.” 

The order states: “The emergency regulation is intended to allow the same practices used for temporary conditional changes on private property to be applied when a similar temporary conditional use of the public right of way is sought by business.” 

Permits will be processed through the Community Development Department, and businesses will have to abide by the following rules: 

  • Sidewalk dining with a minimum four-foot wide accessible path of travel for pedestrians and a minimum six-foot separation between the chairs associated with different dining tables for social distancing. 
  • Up to two public parking spaces located only in front of a restaurant/eating establishment may be reserved for pick-up/take-out orders. 
  • Consumption of alcohol will only be allowed if the business is expressly permitted to offer such sales in the specified area under an existing state license as issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. 
  • Compliance with applicable public health laws is required. 

“The emergency regulation will take effect immediately, however it is subject to ratification by the city council,” Bernal said. 

The Visalia City Council will vote on ratifying the order at the July 20 meeting.

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