Flex Streets Initiative

The City of Oakland is exploring how streets and sidewalks might be used to help impacted businesses recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Date Posted: May 25th, 2020 @ 4:19 PM
Last Updated: April 15th, 2021 @ 9:51 AM


For the latest Alameda County Public Health Orders, please visit https://covid-19.acgov.org/sip.page?. Be sure to carefully review the Restaurant Operating Procedures which provides information on outdoor operations.

The City of Oakland is exploring how to provide opportunities for economic revitalization and community engagement through creative and flexible uses of sidewalks, parking lanes and streets. The Flex Streets initiative seeks opportunities to streamline permitting requirements to provide additional space for Oakland businesses to operate as allowed by recent modifications to Alameda County's Shelter-in-Place Order.

NEW - March 2021: Map of existing Flex Streets locations

City of Oakland Launches Flex Streets Initiative Allowing Businesses to Use City Sidewalks and Streets Under COVID-19

City of Oakland Encourages Businesses to Temporarily Convert Parking Lots & Other Private Spaces for Dining & Retail

City Continues Expansion of Flex Streets Initiative to allow use of City-Owned Property to help businesses meet Physical Distancing Requirements

Read the Information Memorandum on the Flex Streets Initiative.

Watch a video of a press event on the Flex Streets Initiative

Download a flyer on the Flex Street Initiative in English, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Businesses Participating in the Flex Streets Program

Fire Safety Tips for Businesses Operating Outdoors under the Flex Streets Initiative

November 25, 2020: Flex Streets Winterization Guidelines

November 2020: California Department of Public Health's Use of Temporary Structures for Outdoor Business Operations

California Department of Public Health's Temporary Outdoor Structures Q&A

State guidance for outdoor live events, entertainment, and performances with seated audiences.

Renewal of Permits

Approved Flex Street permits will auto-renew on December 31. The new expiration date will be June 30, 2021.

There’s no need for applicants to get new copies of their permits, and no need to resubmit applications.


Support local restaurants, retailers and allowed personal care service providers

  • Provide quick response to businesses who want to use public rights of way to accommodate COVID-19 physical distance guidelines

Support Oakland residents

  • Increase outdoor activity for Oakland residents and visitors while maintaining physical distancing
  • Provide much needed public open space to encourage physical and mental health and to prevent overcrowding within green space
  • Foster renewed community spirit, connection and engagement within Oakland neighborhoods

Support local performers and artists

  • Provide new spaces for performing arts
  • Activate the street, and help get our performing arts sector back to work

Improve traffic safety

  • Encourage safe traffic behavior in residential neighborhoods, business corridors and other areas of high-volume pedestrian activity
  • Improve safety for vulnerable road users-- including bikes, peds, scooters, children, elderly, and disabled--in high volume commercial corridors
  • Maintain and improve accessibility compliance on public rights of way

Ensure and advance racial equity

  • Advance racial equity for and prioritize vulnerable businesses of color
  • Ensure business owners receive necessary technical support to take advantage of proposed city initiatives
  • Reduce administrative barriers to participate in City program

Use the Sidewalks or Parking Lane

Learn the five steps to apply for use of sidewalks or parking lanes to meet Alameda County's Social Distancing Requirements.

Use a Traffic Lane

Based on feedback from meetings with business owners and community leaders, our engineers are developing a roster of potential street closures that represent what our engineers feel may be suitable to maintain transit access, traffic flow and emergency response.

If you represent a group of businesses and are interested in closing a street for outdoor dining or retail, please complete the Flex Streets Initiative Street Closure interest form.

Learn the steps required to apply for use of vehicle travel lanes to meet Alameda County's Social Distancing Requirements.

For qualifying Equity Areas, equipment (barriers, signs, cones, etc.) to close a street may be available free-of-charge for the duration of the closure. Complete the Street Closure interest form to learn more.

Use a Private Parking Lot or Other Private Outdoor Areas

The City of Oakland is exploring how to provide opportunities for economic revitalization and community engagement through creative and flexible uses of privately-owned parking lots and other open outdoor areas. The initiative provides opportunities to streamline permitting requirements to provide additional space for Oakland businesses to operate as allowed by modifications to Alameda County's Shelter-in-Place order.

Learn more on this Planning & Building web page.

Vend from a Food Truck, Trailer or Pushcart

As part of the Flex Streets Program’s efforts to support businesses to operate safely and to provide the public with additional opportunities to consume food while physically distancing from others during the Covid-19 Emergency, the Special Activity Permits Division is now accepting mobile food vending permit applications from food trucks, trailers and sidewalk vendors.

Learn more on the City’s mobile food vending web page.

Use City-owned Outdoor Property

The City of Oakland is making available unutilized City-owned outdoor properties to retail businesses and restaurants which are unable to operate in the public right of way or on private property as provided under the FlexStreets program.

For more details on the use of City-owned property under the FlexStreets program see Section 2 of Emergency Order No. 4 issued on June 19, 2020.

Learn more on this Real Estate web page.

Help Us Craft the Initiative


The City is conducting a survey of business owners who applied to use the public right-of-way through the Flex Streets Initiative.

Help promote the text-based Flex Streets survey by posting a flyer in your windows.


Share your thoughts on using the parklets and sidewalk installations by taking this online survey in four languages or text FLEX to (510) 380-7360

Re-opening Resources

For planning resources and guidelines, please visit the Business Re-opening web page.

COVID-19 Business and Worker Resources