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City of LA instantly issues sidewalk dining permits to help restaurants reopen safely

Los Angeles, CA, USA
In Collaboration With
City of Los Angeles

Goverment Champion

LADOT and LA Mayor's Office

Project Status

Operational since 2020


environmental health

Challenges Addressed



Resilient city

Funding / Financing

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Type


At a Glance

The City of Los Angeles wanted to quickly certify restaurants to use sidewalks and private property for outdoor dining. The team stood up a new automated permitting workflow in just 2 days that allowed hundreds of businesses to self-certify and access and print temporary outdoor dining permits in under 20 minutes

Problem Addressed

Restaurants across the country are struggling to stay in business after mandatory closures for COVID-19. In Los Angeles, the Mayor's Office, Street Services, Department of Transportation, and Building and Safety wanted to quickly develop a simple way for restaurants to apply online, self-certify, and be able to offer sidewalk and private property dining. The LA Al Fresco program was designed to help local businesses access new outdoor dining options. Because the City was already using CityGrows for other permits, their non-technical staff was able to quickly stand up a new permit process in 2 days. Restaurants self-certify and receive a permit in less than 20 minutes if they meet all program criteria.

The City of Los Angeles used/is using CityGrows no-code workflows software to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

In just a few days, non-technical staff from the Department of Transportation and the Mayor's Office were able to set up, test, and share a simple application through which restaurant owners could apply for sidewalk and private property dining permits. The application captured applicants' signatures, allowed staff to review those requests that didn't agree to all necessary components of the program, and flagged those that wanted more complex closures (of parking spaces and travel lanes) for further, enhanced review.

The software allowed businesses to print out customized permits immediately if they met all program criteria, and the City issued hundreds of permits during the first weekend the program was available to restaurants.

Because City of Los Angeles already had a CityGrows account, there was no cost to set up and manage this workflow. Any other government can easily copy and customize this workflow -all COVID-specific workflows on CityGrows are fee for governments to use.

We're pretty sure it's the first time the City of Los Angeles has ever issued a permit in under 20 minutes.


  1. Restaurants were able to immediately begin providing sidewalk and private property dining options, assisting them in reopening safely.
  2. Staff was able to monitor and approve requests while working from home.
  3. The City is able to provide the public with real-time information about which restaurants are offering sidewalk/ outdoor dining.

Lessons Learned

  1. The software enabled the City of LA to require a number of key fields so that they could default to approving the permit. This was a huge step towards making the city easier to work with.

Something Unique

Because CityGrows makes all workflows available for governments to copy and customize, any municipality or county can duplicate and use the City of LA's workflow. Since we've launched this program Santa Monica and West Hollywood have quickly launched similar initiatives using the template from LA.

Who Should Consider?

Any government that wants to help its local restaurants reopen safely and with increased outdoor dining capacity. It's a completely free option for your government to use.

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