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Public Way Use & Sidewalk Cafe Permits


Public Way Use Permits

Chicago’s streets, sidewalks, alleys, and parkways are parts of the “public way.” In order for a business or property owner to occupy, use or otherwise encroach on, over, or under the public way, a Public Way Use Permit or other specialized permit is required.


Common examples of items that require a Public Way Use Permit or other specialized permit are listed below:

  • Over Street Level (Above Grade): Canopies/Awnings, Signs, Light Fixtures, Balconies, Banners

  • On Street Level (At Grade): Planters, Decorative Pavers, Bollards, Windscreens, Kiosks, Sidewalk Cafés

  • Under Street Level (Below Grade): Vaults, Conduits, Caissons, Earth Retention Systems, Irrigation Systems

You may download a copy of the Combined Public Way Use application online. You may view a full list of specialized permits pertaining to the public way on the City of Chicago's website.


Sidewalk Cafe Permits

Depending on their location, outdoor seating areas fall under different operating rules and procedures.  If you’re a business with an outdoor seating area on the public right-of-way, you must apply for a sidewalk café permit. If you are having issues applying online, please contact my office.

The 2nd Ward reviews all sidewalk café applications for compliance with city ordinances, departmental rules, and ADA requirements.  Applications that do not meet the requirements are returned to the applicant for revisions prior to approval. Applicants should familiarize themselves with BACP’s Sidewalk Café Rules & Regulations before applying.

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