New (but temporary) outdoor seating permitting options available on Mercer Island

The city council recently approved an ordinance that allows restaurants to use vehicle stalls in private parking areas for outdoor seating.

Outdoor seating options are temporarily expanding for Mercer Island businesses.

At its Aug. 4 meeting, the city council passed an ordinance allowing restaurants and other types of eateries to extend outdoor seating availability for the next six months or until King County is approved for Phase 4. The ordinance makes it so that owners can work with their landlords/property owners to use vehicle stalls in nearby private parking areas for seating, according to a city release.

Under Phase 2, outdoor seating at restaurants is allowed but can only be at 50 percent capacity.

Business owners who would like to make use of the new option can apply with Mercer Island’s Community Planning and Development Department. The city of Mercer Island will cover the fee for a staff review — which amounts to some $350 — via King County emergency funds.

Restaurants are not the only kind of business with newly tweaked outdoor-use options. Fitness businesses that want to provide outdoor services but don’t have adequate space are encouraged to buy a Temporary Park Use Permit for the season or rent grass sports fields by the hour. These options will also be paid for by emergency funds. Seasonal permits will expire on Halloween and from then on the city will go back to the established, pre-COVID-19-era process.

For more information about outdoor-seating permitting, contact Mercer Island’s small business liaison Sarah Bluvas at Fitness businesses can contact Katie Herzog at for more information.