Denver’s Outdoor Places Program builds on the success of the temporary outdoor dining program used by local businesses during the pandemic. While the temporary program was created in May 2020 to help restaurants and bars safely expand their serving capacity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the permanent program currently in development will allow these and other businesses to use private and public space for outdoor operations after the temporary program ends.
There are four different patio types that will each receive their own program requirements:
Above Curb Patios (public sidewalk area, tree lawns)
Private Property Patios (private parking lots, privately-owned areas)
Below Curb Patios (on-street parking)
Full Street Closure Pilot (travel lanes)
Project partners include Community Planning and Development, Denver Economic Development and Opportunity, the Denver Fire Department, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Human Rights and Community Partnerships, Department of Public Health and Environment and the Department of Excise and Licenses.
Temporary Program Next Steps – Timelines to Transition to Outdoor Places Program
Temporary patio permits in good standing as of October 31, 2022 (meaning renewals were on time and the patios met the requirements of the permit) are allowed to remain into 2023 while the permanent Outdoor Places Program is developed. Program participants must continue to notify neighbors of their temporary patio via a public posting and may be subject to a Needs and Desires Hearing, as directed by the Department of Excise and Licenses. Exact deadlines and procedures will depend on the location of the temporary outdoor space.
Above Curb Patios (public sidewalks, tree lawns)
Above curb patios in good standing could continue in place through April 30, 2023, or longer if an extension was granted by the city. To continue beyond April 2023, businesses needed to apply under the Outdoor Places Program by April 30, 2023. Businesses were able to operate under the temporary permit beyond April 30, 2023 while the Outdoor Places application was reviewed.
Above Curb patio requirements and application>>
Please note that the program requirements differ from those of the temporary program, so business owners should read these requirements carefully. The Outdoor Places Program replaces the Department of Transportation & Infrastructure's Tables, Chairs & Railings (TCR) program. Business owners with a TCR permit do not need to take further action at this time.
Private Property Patios (private parking lots, privately-owned areas)
Private property patios operated under the temporary program that are in good standing may continue in place through December 31, 2023. To continue operating a private property patio beyond December 2023, businesses must apply for a zoning permit under the Outdoor Places Program, including payment of all applicable fees, by October 31, 2023, and be fully permitted by March 31, 2024.
Below Curb Patios (on-street parking)
Below curb patios in on-street parking spaces that are in good standing may continue in place through December 31, 2023. To continue long-term beyond December 2023, businesses will need to apply under the Outdoor Places Program by October 31, 2023, and be fully permitted by December 31, 2023.
Right-of-Way Encroachment Permit
If you want to apply to use the public right-of-way under the city's existing (pre-pandemic) regulations, you may apply for a permit under the current Right-of-Way Encroachment Permit program from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI).
If you have a liquor license, you will also need to submit a request for a permanent modification with the Department of Excise and Licenses.
Street Closure Pilot (travel lanes)
Below curb patios that close a travel lane or the full block, are permitted to operate through December 31, 2023 if they are in good standing. To continue operating into 2024, these outdoor spaces will need to submit a Pilot Street Closure application for review. Review of these applications will prioritize facilitating safe, well designed, privately maintained outdoor spaces that enhance and activate the public realm for everyone.
For questions regarding the temporary patio program, please contact:
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Above Curb Patio Description
Click to enlarge "Above Curb" illustration(JPG, 910KB)
"Above Curb" patios are located in the public right-of-way but do not occupy on-street parking or vehicle travel lanes. Above Curb patios are typically located on sidewalks or tree lawns. If any portion of the patio extends into on-street parking or vehicle lanes, the entire patio is considered "Below Curb."
Outdoor Places Program Status: Program Requirements Finalized and Applications Open
Thanks to feedback from stakeholder communities, the city has released final program requirements for Above Curb patios in the right of way (located on sidewalks or tree lawns). These requirements:
Read the Above Curb Program Requirements(PDF, 28MB)
Business owners who would like to build a new Above Curb patio can apply for a permit under the permanent Outdoor Places Program. Applications must comply with the Program Requirements or they will not be approved. Please review the Program Requirements carefully before submitting your application.
Detailed application instructions are available below.
Above Curb Application Instructions
1. Pre-application Meeting (Optional)
Applicants may request an optional Pre-application Meeting with the Program Administrator prior to submitting a formal application. This is recommended for those who need assistance with complex proposals. If the patio requires a Neighborhood Impacts Review (requirements found on page 34 of the requirements), a pre-application meeting is required.
Request a pre-application meeting
2. Prepare Application Materials
Application materials listed below will be required attachments to be submitted through e-permits.
- Letter of approval from landlord or property owner
- Outdoor Places Program Application
- Site plan (see example on page 17 of the Above Curb Program Requirements)
- Showing the location and dimensions of all patio elements
- Pedestrian Access Route
- Nearby obstructions such as trees, tree grates, benches, planters, parking meters, curbs, curb ramps, manholes, utility boxes, Fire Department Connections, etc.
- Dimensions indicating the setbacks of the proposed patio from nearby obstructions and elements
- Adjacent and nearby doorways (within 6 feet of the proposed patio) including the extent of the projection of doors when open
- Existing permitted occupancies, including permitted indoor and outdoor areas
- Photos of the patio area (proposed patio location from multiple angles and directions, including from the street, sidewalk and private property)
- A list of all proposed furnishings and elements to be used within the patio, including specifications, materials information and dimensions of such elements. Refer to page 13 of the Program Requirements for the Above Curb design requirements.
- Number of seats to be added with the proposed patio
- Certificate of Insurance showing minimum coverages and the City and County of Denver as Additional Insured. More details about insurance requirements are in the appendix pg. 45.
3. Submit Online
Need help? View e-permits tutorials and FAQs
- After gathering all required documents, go to e-permits to submit an Outdoor Places Program application. If you are new to e-permits, please start by registering for an account. Once you are registered and signed in, go to Right-of-Way Services > Apply for a permit.
- Select “Outdoor Patio and Dining”
- Note: Patios is in the Right-of-Way need an Occupancy permit. This permit will automatically generate with your Outdoor Places application and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will contact you regarding the permit fee.
- Fees: The application fee is $600 and the annual renewal fee is $300.
- Your project may require additional permits and review. Once submitting this application, you will get an email listing any additional permits you need to submit. You can review the Outdoor Places Program Requirements for more information about required reviews and permits.
- Enter your contact information
- Enter a project name and short description (including what patio type it is)
- Select your patio type (for Above Curb click Right-of-Way (ROW))
- Fill out “Outdoor Patio Information”
- Modified zoning permit is only relevant for Private Property patios
- If your patio will have heating elements, you will be prompted to submit a fire permit after this application
- Note: Disregard the following question on the application: Do you have a zoning permit for an Accessory to an Eating/Drinking Establishment?
- Upload Documents
- Required documents will be listed in the drop-down menu
- Please also include photos of the patio area (applicants should provide photos of the proposed patio location from multiple angles and directions, including from the street, sidewalk and private property)
- All of the required attachments must be included in your application for a review to begin
Private Property Patio Description
Click to enlarge "Private Property" illustration(JPG, 1MB)
Private property patios are located completely on private property. They are typically located on private parking lots and open areas on a property.
Outdoor Places Program Status: Program Requirements Adopted by Denver City Council, Rules and Regulations Published
Denver City Council approved Outdoor Places program requirements for outdoor patios on private property. These program requirements:
Prioritize flexibility, including removing the requirements that a patio be contiguous to the primary use and be delineated with vertical elements like railings or walls
Allow for more creativity in patio design
Provide a streamlined application process to save time for business owners
Allow for businesses other than restaurants and bars to provide outdoor gathering spaces
Read more in the Strategy Report(PDF, 13MB)
Read the City Council Text Amendment(PDF, 2MB)
Denver City Council adopted the text amendment on Monday, June 12.
The Department of Community Planning and Development held a public hearing on rules and regulations that affect Outdoor Gathering Areas on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. The rules and regulations (design guidelines) clarify the design criteria by which an outdoor patio can receive regulatory relief from Denver Zoning Code standards. Compliance with the rules and regulations is only required when an applicant requests relief from zoning standards.
Read the Design Guidelines(PDF, 12MB)
Below Curb Patio Description
Click to enlarge "Below Curb" illustration(JPG, 1MB)
Below Curb patios are patios where any portion is located in on-street parking or vehicle travel lanes.
Outdoor Places Program Status: Draft Program Requirements Released
The Outdoor Places Program has released draft program requirements for Below Curb patios, the final typology for the permanent program. The design guidelines include patio placement, safety barriers, ADA access, urban design guidance, and more.
Public comment on the draft Below Curb requirements was accepted through July 26, 2023. Feedback received will be used to further refine the requirements.
Read the Draft Program Requirements(PDF, 9MB)
Click to enlarge "Full Street Closure" image
In June 2020, Denver closed portions of some streets to traffic, including the Larimer Square block and around the Denver Pavilions. Many restaurants and bars in these spaces provided outdoor patios that extended into street travel lanes. The city heard from Denverites that they enjoyed eating, drinking, gathering, and walking and biking in these spaces free from vehicular traffic. Building on the success of these initial street closures, the Outdoor Places Street Closure Pilot aims to facilitate safe, well designed, privately maintained outdoor spaces that enhance and activate the public realm for everyone.
Outdoor Places Program Status: Full Street Closure Pilot Regulations Finalized and Open for Application
A full street closure constitutes a closure that blocks a single or all traffic lanes of a street for at least one block. To apply for a full street closure, the applicant must:
Conduct a mobility study to understand transportation and safety impacts
Conduct community outreach, respond to feedback provided, and receive neighborhood support
Read the Full Street Closure Pilot Program Requirements(PDF, 978KB)
Applications must be submitted by a singular applicant that represents the whole street closure. For questions on the program requirements and application materials, please contact Justin Rinaldi, Outdoor Places Program Administrator, at Justin.Rinaldi@denvergov.org.
Out of necessity during the pandemic, restaurants across Denver and the U.S. began to create unique outdoor spaces that turned under-utilized outdoor areas into new spaces for eating, drinking, and social gathering. As “stay at home” orders were lifted in May 2020 but capacity limits remained in place, the City and County of Denver moved quickly to create a temporary program to allow greater flexibility for these spaces – ensuring public safety while promoting fast and creative set-ups.
Since May 2020, over 370 restaurants and bars have participated in the temporary program. Patrons across Denver have dined at and enjoyed these innovative outdoor spaces, and over 70% of restaurants surveyed by the Colorado Restaurant Association wanted the ability to make their temporary set-ups into a long-term space.
In October 2021, Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced that Denver would begin building upon the success of these temporary measures with a permanent “Outdoor Places Program” to continue providing residents with enjoyable, safe outdoor options. Read the announcement.
Scope and Timing
Creating the Outdoor Places Program will include amendments to the Denver Zoning Code, which regulates private property in Denver. All zoning code amendments must be approved by Denver City Council before they can become effective. This work will also entail updates to city rules and regulations governing the use of the public right-of-way.
Existing approved temporary patios in good standing (meaning that renewals are on time and the patios are meeting the requirements of the permit) will be allowed to remain into 2023 as city staff work with businesses and residents to develop new rules for the permanent program.
Community Engagement and Feedback
Virtual Community Meeting #1
5:30 - 7p.m., Thursday, March 16
Virtual Meeting via Zoom
Planning Board Public Hearing
3 p.m., Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Webb Municipal Building, Room 4F6/4G2, 201 W. Colfax Ave.
Get complete information at DenverGov.org/PlanningBoard
Denver City Council Public Hearing
5:30 p.m., Monday, June 12, 2023
Virtual Community Meeting
5:30 - 7 p.m., Tuesday, August 29, 2023
Virtual Meeting via Zoom
Maintaining Public Safety and Mobility in the Right-of-Way
As part of the Outdoor Places Program, the city will outline requirements that maintain public safety and mobility in the public right-of-way. Criteria/limits for using parking lanes and travel lanes for outdoor business will be established to ensure the safety of all.
While the Outdoor Places Program itself will be permanent, right-of-way permits are always temporary and revocable to allow the city to react to changing conditions in the right-of-way.