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Posted on: May 11, 2022

Fremont City Council Approves Permanent Program for Outdoor Commercial Patios

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Yesterday evening, the Fremont City Council approved an ordinance to allow commercial outdoor patio areas made popular by the COVID-19 pandemic to continue operating in Fremont on a long-term basis and authorized the use of $40,000 one-time funding to offset the $500 permit fee for businesses that apply the remainder of the calendar year.

The new Outdoor Commercial Patio Program provides businesses with a streamlined and low-cost process to permit their outdoor commercial spaces. Unlike many similar permitting models throughout the Bay Area, Fremont’s new program is one-time and tied to the business, removing the need to reapply each year and saving small business owners valuable time and money.  

To provide simplicity and ensure reasonable aesthetics are achieved, businesses can choose from a list of pre-approved accessibility designs and vehicle barrier types. In addition, businesses can develop outdoor patios up to 750 square feet.

This program builds on nearly two years of experience with temporary outdoor patios through the City’s Pop-Up Patio Pilot Program, which provided Fremont businesses with a free, straightforward permitting process to enable their temporary expansion into outdoor spaces during the height of COVID-19 restrictions. In total, over 70 businesses participated in the pilot, including restaurants, bars, salons, gyms, and tutoring centers. 

While developing its new, permanent permitting framework, the City surveyed businesses that had participated in the pilot program and held multiple meetings with community stakeholders. Recurring themes included: a desire for businesses to have a single, one-time permit application; maintaining flexibility with patio or parklet materials to keep costs manageable while ensuring safety and design aesthetics are met; keeping permit costs low in acknowledgement of the ongoing challenges small businesses continue to face; and making the permit process easy and straightforward. 

“At the heart of this framework is an interest in creating greater equity for Fremont’s small business owners, two-thirds of whom were born outside of the US and on average, earn below the City’s median household income,” Mayor Lily Mei said. “While citywide small business revenues have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, many businesses continue to struggle with the challenges of hiring staff, supply chain shortages, and making up for deficits that occurred during the height of the pandemic, when revenues across Fremont’s business districts declined by as much as 55%. The new permit program will help to advance the Council’s priority of business district revitalization amidst pandemic recovery.”

All business owners who wish to offer outdoor patios, including those with approved temporary patios, are required to switch to the new permanent program. For more information about how to apply, a step-by-step guide, and the available funding to offset the permit fee, please visit www.Fremont.gov/PopUpPatio.



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