Seasonal Enclosures and Other Shelters for Commercial Uses

Lake Oswego restaurants have faced numerous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist our local restaurants, in September 2020, the Lake Oswego City Council amended the City Code to allow seasonal restaurant enclosures in commercial areas.

In addition, at its October 20 meeting, Council initiated Code changes relating to canopies and awnings for restaurant seating, and temporary shelters for dining and other commercial uses in during the pandemic.

These expanded seating areas will allow restaurants throughout the business community to temporarily increase seating capacity and safely serve more customers, while maintaining social distancing requirements. They will also allow other types of businesses to add needed space for customers during the pandemic.

All building and fire and life safety code requirements will continue to apply.

Definitions 

Seasonal Restaurant Enclosure - A seasonal restaurant enclosures is an enclosure on three or more sides of an outdoor restaurant dining area, or an entryway vestibule attached to a building and providing access to a restaurant within an attached building. The enclosure materials are typically canvas and vinyl with a removable metal frame. The enclosure is not permanently affixed to any structure or the ground, as it must be removed not later than May 1 annually.

Example of seasonal restaurant enclosure.
 

Awnings and Canopies - A canopy is a nonremovable roof-like structure attached to a building (LOC 50.10.3.2). Similarly, an awning is a roof-like cover extending over or in front of a place (as over the deck or in front of a door or window) as a shelter.


Example of an awning at a restaurant.

 

Tents and Temporary Shelters - A tent is a structure or shelter, with or without sidewalls or drops, constructed of fabric or pliable material supported by any manner except by air or the contents that it protects. A tent or temporary shelter may be similar to an enclosure but is not attached to (or within 3 feet of) a building.  

Example of a tent used by a restaurant.

 

Umbrellas and Parasols – Umbrellas or parasols are currently allowed in sidewalk café seating areas, subject to compliance with LOC 42.19 Sidewalk Cafes and Sidewalk Displays. Refer to: www.codepublishing.com/OR/LakeOswego 


Example of umbrellas used at a sidewalk cafe.

Seasonal Restaurant Enclosures

Ordinance 2851 amended the City Code to allow seasonal restaurant enclosures on patios and other outdoor spaces on private property in commercial zones from November 1 through April 30 in any year (not limited to pandemic). This allows restaurants greater flexibility for restaurant operations by offering the added customer seating options during the colder/rainier months.

Permit Process

The City has initiated a streamlined permit process for seasonal restaurant enclosures. A ministerial review or minor development review will be required depending on location, size and height of the restaurant enclosures.

  • Ministerial Review

The ministerial review process requires only a building permit. A ministerial review (building permit) process can be used for enclosures that:

  1. Are not more than 400 square feet in area for dining enclosures or 50 square feet in area for an entrance vestibule. If both a dining enclosure and entrance vestibule are proposed, the maximum combined size of both shall not exceed 400 square feet in area,
  2. Do not include any walls over 12 feet in height; and,
  3. Are set back at least 20 feet from any lot frontage, any lot containing a residential use, public open space, or public access easement. If abutting a residential use, the enclosure must be screened by a sight-obscuring fence or wall not less than six feet in height.
  • Minor Development Review

A minor development review process will be required for enclosures that do not meet the above criteria for ministerial approval. This process is subject to a more streamlined set of standards than is required to construct a permanent structure.

The minor development process is a staff decision - it does not require a Development Review Commission (DRC) public hearing unless appealed. 

The first step in a minor development process is a pre-application (Pre-App) conference. Pre-Apps take place prior to submitting the land use application. The purpose of the Pre-App is to discuss the development proposal, the applicable criteria, and the requirements for completing an application. Please refer to the City’s Pre-App handout for more detailed information on this process.

In order to ensure the enclosures integrate into the primary building, specific commercial design standards will apply. 

Please contact the Planning Department at 503-635-0290, or planning@lakeoswego.city to receive confirmation on the correct application process.

Parking

No additional parking spaces required.

Removal

Seasonal restaurant enclosures must be removed by May 1 of every year.

Awnings and Canopies

The City is in the process of amending the City Code as it relates to the use of awnings and canopies for restaurant seating. Businesses are allowed to obtain building permits for awnings/canopies without applying for design review in accordance with the proposed code changes while the code amendments are in process. During the code amendment process, prior to receiving permits, the owner must sign a waiver on a form approved by the City Attorney releasing the City from all liability.

These code changes only apply during October 21, 2020 through May 31, 2021, as long as the commercial use is under COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions.

Permit Process for Awnings/Canopies

A building permit is required under the conditions outlined below. 

  • When the awning or canopy covering an outdoor seating area of an existing restaurant is the only change to the facade of a building, and the canopy/awning is erected during October 21, 2020 through May 31, 2021. 
    • The awning/canopy shall cover no more than 30 percent of the width of any street-facing façade and shall be set back no less than 20 feet from any residential zone. 
    • Any lighting shall be directed downward and shielded or screened to prevent lighting off-premise areas.
    • No additional parking spaces required.

Tents and Similar Temporary Shelters

The City is in the process of amending the City Code as it relates to tents and similar temporary shelters. With approval of a Fire Department permit, businesses are allowed to use these temporary shelters for more than 14 days (up to six months) in accordance with the proposed code changes while the code amendments are in process. 

These code changes only apply during October 21, 2020 through May 31, 2021, as long as the commercial use is under COVID physical distancing restrictions.

Permit Process for Tents and Similar Temporary Shelters

A Fire Department permit is required under the conditions outlined below.

  • When the tent or similar temporary shelter is used for restaurant seating or customer waiting, pickup or drop-off area (but excluding merchandise display, sales (other than food and drink), and promotional and educational events) from October 21 through May 31 during years when Clackamas County is subject to state-mandated COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions.
    • All Fire Code requirements must be met. Please contact the City of Lake Oswego Fire Marshal at 503-635-0275. For more information, please refer to the Fire Department’s permitting requirements for tents at www.ci.oswego.or.us/fire/fire-department-permits
    • The tent or similar temporary structure shall be set back no less than 20 feet from any residential zone. 
    • Any lighting shall be directed downward and shielded or screened to prevent lighting off-premise areas.
    • No additional parking spaces are required.
    • Tents and other temporary shelters allowed under this policy must be removed by June 1, 2021.

For questions, contact the Fire Department at 503-635-0275. 

Heating, Electrical and Other Regulations

All shelters (awning, canopy, tent or other temporary shelter, and seasonal enclosure) have to meet applicable building and fire and life safety code requirements, including but not limited to regulation of heating sources, cooking/open flames, electrical, seating, spacing between structures, and spacing from vehicles. 

Fire and life safety standards are regulated by the Building and Fire Codes. For Building Code questions, please contact the Building Official at 503-635-0390. For Fire Code questions, please contact the Fire Marshal at 503-635-0275. 

Fire Marshal’s Guidance on Tents

Contact Information

Building and Planning Department

503-635-0290

Email: planning@lakeoswego.city

 

Lake Oswego Fire Department

Fire Marshal’s Office

503-635-0275

Email: gzoutendijk@ci.oswego.or.us

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