Provide a way for restaurant owners in El Cajon to more easily and economically obtain permits allowing outdoor dining on the City’s sidewalks and right of way on a temporary basis, which allow some restaurant to have sufficient space to accommodate diners and food service workers by providing sufficient spacing as required by the County of San Diego Health Department orders.


Pursuant to the adoption of City Council Ordinances No. 5100 and 5101; temporary sidewalk dining is authorized in the City of El Cajon effective June 11, 2020 through December 31, 2020 for restaurants by the issuance of an encroachment permit.  Sidewalk dining is subject to the following general provisions:

  1. Sidewalk dining will only be allowed in commercial zones.
  2. Except as provided in section (13), below, establishment of sidewalk dining shall require the approval of a conditional use permit for outdoor dining and the issuance of an annual encroachment permit for sidewalk dining. Operators shall comply with all requirements of this chapter, and all conditions imposed by the conditional use permit and encroachment permits.
  3. Operators of the sidewalk dining shall provide adequate public liability insurance in accordance with city council policy and to the satisfaction of the city attorney.
  4. There shall be no damage caused by the sidewalk dining to the paving or the existing features of the sidewalk.
  5. The sidewalk dining shall be adjacent to the operator’s associated licensed establishment selling food and beverages for consumption on the premises. See Municipal Code Section 12.09.050(F).
  6. The hours of operation of the sidewalk dining shall not extend beyond the hours of operation of the operator’s associated eating and drinking establishment.
  7. Alcoholic beverages will only be available in conjunction with the food service at the sidewalk dining portion.
  8. The sidewalk dining portion shall be kept free of trash, food, and spills at all times.
  9. If there is a sound system in the sidewalk dining portion, it shall be limited to background music only, shall comply with all city noise regulations, and shall not be audible to pedestrians beyond ten feet of the sidewalk dining portion, nor vehicles.
  10. Pedestrians shall have the right-of-way where the food servers and customers have to cross or wait on the sidewalk area outside the sidewalk dining area.
  11. The sidewalk area shall be cleared of all encroachments for special events and maintenance work on the subject and adjacent properties. Some special events will require that the encroachments be removed prior to midnight of those events (e.g. Mother Goose Parade, etc.) in order to make the entire sidewalk available for pedestrians. Sidewalks must be cleaned and free of all trash, food, and spills, and made safe by the operator for pedestrian use when the encroachments are removed.
  12. The furniture may remain on the sidewalk in the public right-of-way outside the hours of operation only if approved by the city manager or his or her designee. Granting or withholding such approval shall be at the sole discretion of the city manager or his or her designee. Any approved fencing shall be subject to the design criteria set forth in Municipal Code Section 12.09.050, herein.
  13. The requirement for a conditional use permit for sidewalk dining shall not be required during the period of June 9, 2020 and December 31, 2020, inclusive.


Encroachment Permits can be applied via the City of El Cajon’s Project Assistance Center Online (PACO), found in the City’s website:  The following items are needed to apply for an encroachment permit:

  1. Sketch or drawing depicting where dining furniture will be situated within the sidewalk.
  2. Insurance Certificate per City Policy D-3.
  3. Copy of Current City of El Cajon Business License.
  4. Encroachment Permit Fee of $450.

Contact Information:  Please contact the Engineering Division in the Project Assistance Center for additional inquiries related to Encroachment Permits.  El Cajon City Hall is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and every other Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.