Arlington County, Virginia, to Consider Expediting Outdoor Cafe Approvals

June 15, 2023

On June 13, 2023, the Arlington County Board adopted a request to advertise the Future of Outdoor Dining (FOOD) study.

The FOOD study establishes a new regulatory process for outdoor cafes in Arlington, Virginia. Specifically, it creates an administrative approval process for most outdoor cafes, including cafes located in the public right of way and in public spaces. Under current zoning, outdoor cafes located in these spaces require Arlington County Board approval at a public meeting. Outdoor cafes located in privately owned public spaces still would be required to obtain Arlington County Board approval of a use permit under the FOOD study.

The FOOD study follows Arlington County’s temporary outdoor seating area (TOSA) policy. Adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, TOSA allowed outdoor cafes to be approved administratively under the county’s Continuity of Governance Ordinance. The TOSA policy will expire in August 2023.

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on the FOOD study at its July 2023 meeting.

For details, see the full staff report for the FOOD study.