The State published health and safety guidelines for restaurants to accommodate dine-in customers These guidelines notably include ensuring physical distancing of at least 6’ between separate dining parties. This criterion may create business hardships if restaurants are required to significantly reduce the number of tables and chairs within their dining area. To strike a balance between social distancing protocols and offsetting the impacts of reduced seating, on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, the Laguna Niguel City Council approved a pilot program to allow temporary activation of portions of shopping center parking and common areas to accommodate outdoor dining for restaurants during the COVID-19 public health crisis with a no fee Temporary Use Permit. Link to Press Release.

A general summary of the program and recommended next steps are summarized below:

Program Highlights:

  • With the approval of a Temporary Use Permit, the City will temporarily allow shopping center parking and common areas to accommodate outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants impacted by COVID-19 related social distancing requirements.
  • City Council has temporarily waived the Temporary Use Permit processing fee.
  • Temporary Use Permit would be valid for 60 days and may be extended at the discretion of the Community Development Director (no fee).

Next Steps: 

  • Work with your property manager to determine possible areas for temporary outdoor dining (owner approval required). This includes ensuring that areas can be made safe for dining by using signage and barriers, and temporarily modifying traffic flow in the center. Centers and restaurants may want to consider creating shared dining areas for diners from multiple restaurants in common areas such as plazas or parking lots.
  • Download  application.
  • Contact the City’s Economic Recovery Team by phone at (949) 362-4300 or by email at for additional program details, filing instructions, and the Temporary Use Permit application.
  • Secure approvals from other applicable non-City agencies (e.g., Orange County Health Department, Orange County Fire Authority, and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control).
  • After approval, the temporary outdoor dining area will be subject to City inspection to confirm safety, circulation, and signage.