In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the City of San Marcos is committed to helping local businesses re-open safely while adhering to public health mandates. As restaurants and other businesses are allowed to gradually re-open under State and County public health orders, businesses will be faced with new safety protocols and associated costs, such as limiting indoor seating and reducing customer occupancy to facilitate social distancing.
In order to facilitate business needs, Urgency Ordinance No. 2020-1486 enacts various modifications to the San Marcos Municipal Code (SMMC) to allow for the following outdoor activities with specific restrictions: outdoor restaurant dining in expanded walkway, plaza, and parking lot areas and the public sidewalk; curbside pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery service accommodations; allowance for alcohol to-go with food; outdoor display and merchandise sales in parking lot areas; assembly and instructional/fitness classes allowed in parking lots and open space areas; and broaden allowances for temporary signage. The provisions of the SMMC are modified until the mandates for social distancing and related health and sanitation measures have been dissolved by the appropriate public health authority.
Outdoor Dining. Dining and cooking, including alcohol sales, for restaurants, cafes, breweries, etc. may be permitted in various locations on the business site such as: walkways, plazas, and parking lots. In the University District, outdoor dining may be permitted on the public sidewalk or non-arterial road by means of a right-of-way encroachment permit and/or Special Event Permit.
Drive-thru. A drive-thru service may be permitted for restaurants and other food service businesses within the parking lot.
Curbside Pick-Up. Businesses may designate on-site parking spaces for curbside pick-up for phone and on-line orders provided the number of spaces does not exceed the number of spaces allocated for the business suite.
Merchandise Display/Sales. Businesses may be permitted to display product and conduct sales within the parking lot.
Instructional/Fitness. Personal services, such as aerobics, gymnastics, and karate studios, may be permitted to conduct classes in the parking lot or an open space area on site.
Group Assembly. Churches or other places of assembly may be permitted to provide outdoor seating for services in the parking lot or an open space area on site.
The outdoor activities, listed above, are required to have a Temporary Outdoor Business Permit prior to the activity occurring. Such a permit is issued by the Planning Division and will include review by the Building and Engineering Divisions and Fire Department. City staff will review the application for compliance with ADA access, ingress/egress, vehicle circulation, adequate parking, health and safety regulations, and any other applicable requirements. City staff review is estimated to be 2 business days for permit issuance and requires an on-site inspection by the Fire Department and Building Inspector prior to operating. For food services, please contact the County Health Department and Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) (if applicable) for any related approvals.
- You can submit an application and site plan via the online form at the bottom of this page.
- You can also obtain an application form at the City Hall Information Desk. The completed application and site plan can be submitted at the Planning Division counter.
- No fee is required for the permit.
Temporary Outdoor Business requirements
- The outdoor activity area shall not be placed in the public right-of-way unless within the University District through issuance of a right-of-way encroachment permit and/or Special Event Permit.
- Applicant shall obtain permit from the City Building Division for temporary power systems (if applicable). Plans for permit should indicate location of generators and distribution boxes.
- Any electrical installations shall comply with the current California Electrical Code. Cords shall be protected from damage and covered in pedestrian travel paths.
- All outdoor activity areas shall be located within hardscape (e.g.: plazas, walkways) or parking lot areas. No activities shall occur in any landscaped area, or be situated in such a manner as to be detrimental to any landscaping on the site.
- Parking lot circulation shall remain unobstructed at all times.
- Accessible parking and paths of travel shall remain unobstructed at all times.
- All outdoor activity areas shall be located in such a manner so that vehicular sight distance is not impeded to the satisfaction of the Engineering Division.
- No sales or display of merchandise from cars, trucks, or any other vehicle is permitted.
- Two (2) banners, not exceeding a total of 60 square feet, are permitted to be displayed on site. Portable signs (A-frames or sandwich boards) may be permitted by approval of the commercial center’s property management. No signage shall be placed in the public right-of-way (e.g. public sidewalks, landscaping, road).
- Any tent greater than 400 square feet or canopy (no sides) greater than 700 square feet used in conjunction with an outdoor activity shall require issuance of a Tent Permit by the Building Division.
- No cooking permitted at any time under tents, canopies, or umbrellas.
- Only listed and approved portable heaters must be used and not be closer than 5 feet to any entrance/exit of any structure. Heaters of any kind must not be used under tents, canopies, or umbrellas.
- Additional outdoor fire extinguishers may be required depending upon travel distance and arrangement.
- Access must be maintained at all times for emergency vehicles. Fire lanes shall remain unobstructed. Clear access must be maintained to fire hydrants at all times.
- All food sales shall be conducted in compliance with Health Department requirements.
- Amplified music/speakers must be directed away from adjacent tenants or residences. Volume must be continually monitored to prevent complaints.
- Improvements installed for outdoor activities shall not impede access to any structural storm water Best Management Practices (BMPs) or storm water inlets on site.
A site plan is required to be submitted for review and needs to depict all information necessary to ascertain the size and location of the proposed outdoor activity in relation to the location of the business suite/building, parking lot, walkways, driveways, and any other buildings or structures on the property. Please see the attached site plan sample. Site plan should include the following, where applicable depending upon the proposed activity.
- Name, address, and phone
- Business address
- Adjacent streets
- Location of business on the property (suite or stand alone building)
- Other existing buildings on the property
- Parking lot/driveways
- Walkways/plaza/other hardscape areas
- Location of proposed outdoor activity with dimensions
- Seating/table arrangement
- Cooking area
- Barriers separating the activity area from parking spaces/driveways
- If seating/dining area is fenced/gated, show proper exiting, door hardware, and signage.
- Drive-thru circulation
- Parking spaces for curbside pick-up
- Temporary signage locations
- ADA parking spaces and pedestrian paths of travel
In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the City of San Marcos is committed to helping local businesses re-open safely and provide opportunity for businesses to advertise they are open for business again. In order to facilitate business needs, Urgency Ordinance No. 2020-1486 enacts various modifications to the San Marcos Municipal Code (SMMC) which include broadening allowances for temporary signage. Therefore, a Temporary Sign Permit will not be required for businesses to display banners in compliance with the following provisions:
1. A maximum of 2 banners not exceeding a total of 60 square feet.
2. Banners may be displayed until such time the City Council Urgency Ordinance No. 2020-1486 is rescinded and State and County Health Orders are no longer in effect.
3. Banners must be located on the property of the business, and not at an off-site location.
4. Banners may be attached or anchored upon a building face, but not placed above the roof line, and/or suspended and affixed between two support posts and not to exceed five feet in height.
a. Cannot be placed in the public right-of-way (e.g.: public sidewalk, landscaping, or road).
b. Cannot be attached and/or affixed to trees or other landscaping.
c. Cannot interfere with pedestrian or vehicle sight-distance.
d. Cannot interfere with any view corridor or obstruct visibility to any other existing business.
e. Cannot interfere with any existing permanent signage.