COVID-19 Temporary Permits for Outdoor Business Services

COVID-19 Temporary Guidance for Business Services

Due to COVID-19, the City of Rohnert Park created a temporary program to allow restaurants, bars and some commercial businesses to operate in outdoor settings adjacent to their businesses. The intent of the program is to allow for greater physical distancing and safety for patrons due to Sonoma County’s public health order to continue to provide your services.  Under this program expansion into designated outdoor areas such as grass, adjacent parking lots, and business sidewalk areas is permitted with the necessary safety measures in place.

As part of the Rohnert Park’s dedicated customer service approach, Development Services staff will answer questions to assist you with navigating applicable rules and regulations.  The goal is to create a streamlined permitting process, while ensuring that mobility and safety remain top priorities. Once a complete application has been received the turnaround time is generally 24 hours of fewer. Note that the heating and tent set up can cause a longer turnaround time due to Fire Department review and approval.

Additionally, the City Council has waived all permitting and inspection fees associated with this program (per minute order 9/22/20).

Who is Eligible?

Restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, coffee shops, bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distiller pubs, wineries, tasting rooms and other similar places of public accommodation offering food, beverages, or alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Some personal services (e.g. outdoor fitness, barbers, nail salons) are also eligible.

Allowed Uses of Outdoor Areas

Outdoor services established under this program can only be used for sit-down down dining or services, or customer pick-up and carry-out service. They cannot be used for activities that would promote congregating or involve shared equipment, including but not limited to:Outdoor dining area

  • Standing areas
  • Live entertainment
  • Outdoor games
  • Movies
  • Broadcast sports
  • Loudspeaker call systems
  • Pets, except services animals allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act

The outdoor area may include temporary tables, benches, chairs/work stations, and umbrellas, and must contain temporary railings and other means of containment and separation between patrons and the public.  Note that no tents or canopies are allowed. All furnishings and lighting must be easily secured or removed at the end of the day.  Depending on what you are installing, electrical, building, engineering or fire permits may also be needed.  Additionally, if the outdoor area includes expansion into the parking lot, safety measures (such as signage, traffic control, barricades, and barriers) are required to ensure mobility and safety for both patrons and the public.

Eligible businesses can use the Zoning and Land Use application to submit an outdoor expansion proposal to the City.  Considerations for every proposal will again include safety, mobility and local and emergency access.  All health orders currently in effect per Sonoma County shall apply.  All applications must be accompanied by the following:

  • Detailed written narrative and site plan describing the outdoor expansion operation to include, but not limited, to the following:
    • Hours of operation. Outdoor patios opened under this program must close by 10:00 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and by 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays;
    • Provide detailed location of outdoor expansion area (e.g. parking lot, sidewalk adjacent to business, other outdoor open areas of the business) on both the site plan and the written narrative.  Provide location of any bar areas and any railings, fences, patio/shade coverings, heating elements or other temporary fixtures to be installed. All establishments with outdoor dining area shall provide a physical barrier surrounding said area and that barrier shall not exceed thirty-six inches in height per the City’s zoning code.
    • Proposed number and location of outdoor tables and chairs, or stations, at least 6 feet apart measured between the closest chair/station at one table to the closest chair/station at the next;
    • For restaurants, will alcohol be served?  Does this business have a retail food (business license) or liquor license issued by the City of Rohnert and Sonoma County Alcohol Beverage Control (see Alcohol licensing requirements below);
    • Lighting Plan – Lighting standards and devices as well as any temporary electrical hookups must meet the provisions of the Electrical Code; and
    • Heating Plan – Heater standards and devices must meet the provisions of the Building and Fire Codes. Our Fire Department prefers electric heating as it’s the safest. If you can proceed with a listed heater (such as UL), Fire approval can be quicker. Some parabolic heaters are also permitted. Submit a spec cut sheet and and the manufacturing set up for Fire Department review and approval; and
    • Signage - Signage directing the public to restroom facilities shall be clear and visible.  At least one handicapped restroom facility must be provided with clear and visible directional signage.
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance – An endorsement of the permit applicants’ insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars, naming the City of Rohnert Park as an additional insured;
  • Per City Council decision on 9/22/20, the permit fees are waived, as well associated fire and building inspections.

    In no instance shall any of the following occur:

  • No outdoor expansion area shall block any accessible parking space;
  • The use of extension cords in an unsafe manner, or any other “trip hazard” device shall not be allowed;
  • No tents or pops ups are allowed
  • No heating apparatus, open flame, pop up tent structures shall be allowed unless expressly approved in writing by the Department of Public Safety.

Alcohol Licensing

If you will be serving alcohol, you will need to obtain Temporary Catering Authorization for COVID-19 at ABC requires you to get authorization from the City and Law Enforcement. Mail the application, a diagram, and $100.00 to request the premise expansion at ABC, 50 D St., Rm #130, Santa Rosa, CA  95404.

Resources to Help you Safely Reopen

To prepare for safely reopening in compliance with the Health Order, we also encourage business owners to visit the Sonoma County Economic Development Board’s SoCo Launch website. SoCo Launch contains mitigation strategies, checklists, and self-certification assessments for various industries to safely reopen according to the Order: VISIT SOCO LAUNCH.

To Apply

Email the application, written narrative, site plan, insurance documents, and heater/lighting specs and cut sheets to [email protected]. For further information or questions please follow up with a staff member (707) 588-2231 or [email protected].

City Hall

Second Floor
130 Avram Avenue
Rohnert Park, California 94928

Contact Us
Phone: (707) 588-2231
Fax: (707) 794-9242
Email: [email protected] 

Hours of Operation
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday - Friday

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