Flex Streets Winterization Guidelines

To help Oakland businesses meet physical distancing and safe operation guidance provided by the state and county, the City of Oakland streamlined the use of the public right-of-way through the Flex Streets Initiative. As winter approaches, the City is providing additional guidance regarding tents, canopies and other temporary structures.

Posted: November 24th, 2020 2:48 PM

Last Updated: January 5th, 2022 5:04 PM

Air Circulation

Per Alameda County Health, umbrellas, canopies, and other shade structures must be:

  1. Minimally open on three sides to allow for the free flow of air through the space, or
  2. Have two (2) one-half walls or "pony walls" of no more than four (4) feet in height and no more than one (1) solid wall, or
  3. Have two (2) canopy mesh sidewalls and no more than one (1) solid wall

This guidance from Alameda County’s Department of Public Health is as of November 24, 2020, and is subject to change without notice. Please refer to the complete guidelines here: Alameda County Outdoor Restaurant Operating Procedures

Tents & Canopies

Tents and canopies used for temporary periods must comply with planning, building, and fire permitting requirements, including but not limited to:

  • To install a tent or canopy over 400 square feet, you must obtain a permit and get approval from the Fire Prevention Bureau fpbreceptionist@oaklandca.gov. Operators installing tents and canopies less than 400 square feet in area are encouraged to schedule an inspection with the Fire Prevention Bureau, fpbreceptionist@oaklandca.gov.
  • To install a tent or canopy of over 200 square feet on private property, you must obtain a permit from the Planning & Building Department, permitinfo@oaklandca.gov.
  • Multiple tents totaling more than 700 square feet in area must not be placed side by side without a fire break clearance of 12 feet between tents and will require a fire inspection to ensure fire break clearance.
  • Placement of tents or canopies must provide compliant access to persons with disabilities and life safety egress (i.e., not blocking fire exits). Before installing a tent or canopy attached to a building, you must contact the Planning & Building Department. Please email a drawing of your desired design to permitinfo@oaklandca.gov. All tents/canopies affixed to a building or other structure, must obtain approval prior to being erected.

Structural stability and anchorage are required. Operators must follow all manufacturer’s guidelines for securing tents and canopies to prevent movement, damage, or collapse due to weather or wind.

Fire Prevention Standards

Operators must ensure that any tent or canopy purchased or rented has a compliance certification label from the State of California indicating the nonflammable materials or flame-resistant fabrics or material used meet the State Fire Marshal standards.

  • Combustible materialsHay, straw, shavings, paper decorations, or similar combustible materials can not be located within any tent or canopy. Such compostable waste must be stored in approved containers and removed from the premises daily.
  • Portable fire extinguishers portable fire extinguishers, specifically those rated 2-A:10-B-C, must be within the canopy or tent mounted, visible, and unobstructed.
  • Smoking smoking is not be permitted within tents or canopies. “No Smoking” signs must be conspicuously posted.
  • Open or exposed flame open flames or devices emitting flame, fire or heat, or any flammable or combustible liquids such as gas, charcoal or other cooking devices are not permitted inside or located within 20 feet of a canopy or tent.
  • Location of containers – heating devices, both propane fueled or electrical, are not allowed in tenants or canopies without prior approval from the Fire Prevention Bureau.
  • Separation of generators generators and other internal combustion power sources must be separated from tents or canopies by no less than 20 feet and must be isolated from contact with the public by fencing, enclosure or other approved means. Generators must be attended at all times and generator fuels must be stored in a secure location.

Combustible vegetation – combustible vegetation such as tree limbs or grass that could create a fire hazard must be at least 30 feet away of a canopy or tent.

Other Reference Resources