Ithaca Commons

The Ithaca Commons is a 4-block pedestrian only zone located in the heart of downtown Ithaca.  It is filled with many seating areas, unique retail shops and a wide variety of eating and drinking establishments. There is a performance space that is often filled with entertaining concerts, shows, and other events, as well as the many buskers that are often located throughout the Commons. 

The Planning Department issues permits for a variety of uses on the Ithaca Commons.  Please click a link below for more information about that permit.

Find more information about Commons permits here.  If you need additional assistance, call us at 607-274-6550

Commons Use Permits

A Commons Use Permit is required for all events that are held on the Commons, from fundraising bake sales to musical festivals.  

To apply for a Commons Use Permit, please complete and this Online Form.  The Ithaca Commons Amenities Map can assist with specifying the specific location on the Commons for your event, and the Fee Schedule will assist you in budgeting for your event.  We request that the application be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the event date for processing. 

PLEASE NOTE: If your event will require three or more (3+) permits and/or resources from the City (i.e. expecting more than 50 people, using food or retail vendors, tasting/serving alcohol, using amplified sound, etc.) you would need a Special Event Permit.

Information Tables on the Commons

  1. All information tables require a Commons Use Permit
  2. Information tables are limited to 4-hour windows of time and are limited to no more than 5 days per month and/or 3 days per week. Special exceptions can be considered.
  3. Informational tabling booths are for information and outreach only. Selling items is not permitted.
  4. Representatives of tabling groups may stand in the area immediately in front of their booth space when distributing literature, gathering signatures, or otherwise actively engaging the public. At no time may group members walk through the Commons engaging in these activities.
  5. No hawking or calling out is allowed.
  6. Tablers may not actively solicit donations on the Commons. A passive donation receptacle is permitted.
  7. Tablers may not give away any items for human consumption.
  8. Booth spaces are approximately 10' x 10'. Tablers are expected to have someone at their booth at all times.
  9. Tablers will be allowed a table and chairs only. No tents will be allowed.
  10. The Commons is a family-friendly venue. Exhibitors are expected to act in accordance with appropriate behavior of a family-friendly space.
  11. Any trash will be picked up and removed by the tabling organization. Including pamphlets, literature, etc. that has been given away and subsequently dropped by the consumer.
  12. The City of Ithaca has the right to refuse tabling privileges to any organization for any reason. The Commons is crowded and our primary mission is to facilitate connections between consumers and nonprofit groups.
  13. Tabling is reserved for nonprofit organizations. For profits and individuals may join together with non-profit organizations to host information tables.

Driving on the Commons

  1. Service and business delivery vehicles are allowed on the Commons between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. daily except when major festivals are planned.
  2. All vehicles must enter the Commons on the West End at the Cayuga Street Entrance and exit the East End at the Aurora Street Entrance to the Commons.
  3. Vehicles must remain on the edge of the Fire Lane.
  4. Vehicles may not be unattended for more than 5 minutes at a time.
  5. No parking of vehicles is allowed.
  6. Any vehicles remaining on the Commons after 9:00 a.m. shall be subject to towing at the owner’s expense.
  7. Vehicles with a gross weight over 10,000 pounds and trailers must obtain an additional permit from the City of Ithaca Superintendent of Public Works.
  8. Requests to drive on the Commons after 9:00 a.m. must obtain another permit from the Superintendent of Public Works.
  9. Permits are issued for two (2) hour time periods ONLY! No permits will be issued between the hours of 11am and 8pm. Permits will also not be issued on days that major activities are planned on the Commons.
  10. No vehicle shall operate at a speed greater than 5 miles per hour.
  11. The Permit Holder will not operate a vehicle in reverse gear unless a flagman is present to protect pedestrians (except emergency vehicles).
  12. Precautionary measures must be taken to prevent dripping of oil, transmission fluid or other fluids on the concrete when a vehicle is stopped. A protective mat is required under all vehicles displayed on the Commons. In the event that drippings of oil or other fluids occur, the vendor and/or merchant is required to ensure such drippings are cleaned in a timely manner.

Issuance of vehicle permits for non-construction related activities has been temporarily suspended. 
We appreciate your patience! 

Work Zone

Work Sites on the Commons

Businesses on the Commons may apply for a permit to have work done on the side of their building that faces the Primary Commons.  Sidewalk closure fees are charged for the square footage that is closed off for work sites on the Commons.  The 2020 fee is $2.98/square foot/year ($0.0081644/sf/day).

Work Sites must be set up with fencing or barriers to ensure pedestrian safety.  Our preferred method is orange field fencing surrounding the work site with the use of free-standing bollards or stanchions to hold up the fence.  Other types of solid barriers are also accepted as long as they are free-standing and are not attached in any way to the ground/pavers. 

The following is required in order to obtain a Permit for a Work Site on the Commons:

INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS:  Contractor applicants shall provide a certificate of insurance naming City of Ithaca as additionally insured and NY State-required Worker’s Compensation forms specific to the project.

  • Owner applicants shall provide their contractor’s insurance or proof of property insurance and a notarized State of NY Worker’s Compensation Affidavit of Exemption. (
  • Public liability coverage shall be a minimum of:  $100,000 for any one person and $300,000 for any one accident. Property damage coverage shall be a minimum of: $50,000 for any one accident and $100,000 in the aggregate. Higher coverage limits can be required by the Superintendent.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS:  Sketches, plans, pedestrian detour plans, traffic detour plans and additional information may be required.

DAYS OF WORK:  Perform permit work on valid dates during business hours. Valid dates may be revised upon request. Do not perform work on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays unless approved in advance by the Superintendent.

PERFORMANCE:  Perform all work at the permit holder’s expense. Perform all work in accordance with the applicable provisions of the City Charter, Code, rules and regulations, special conditions and specifications.

ADDITIONAL EXPENSES AND PENALTIES: The Superintendent may bill the permit holder or property owner for:

  1. City work done in conjunction with the permit work,
  2. City inspections and enforcement of permit provisions, and/or
  3. Estimated costs for corrective work if the Superintendent determines that permit holder has failed or defaulted on the work. If the Superintendent determines that work does not comply with the terms of the permit, or that public safety is at risk, the Superintendent may revoke or cancel a permit and may decline to approve future permit applications made by the same applicant.

Mobile Vending on the Commons


Outdoor Dining


Busking or Street Performing

Street Entertainment is defined as all entertainment performed on The Commons including but not limited to acting, singing, playing musical instruments without amplified sound, pantomime, juggling, magic, ballooning, dancing and reciting.
Street Performer

*Amplified sound, percussion, horns and drums require a separate permit under Commons Use Permits*

  • Performance Area Locations are indicated on the Commons Amenities Map with "B" markings. Keep your permit with you at all times.
  • Performance Times:
    • Sun- Thurs: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 
    • Friday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 
  • Performances are limited to 45 minutes per location, at which time you must rotate to another empty location.  Performance Restrictions will be enforced during programmed events & activities. 
  •  The right to act as a street performer on the Ithaca Commons is a privilege. Entertainers are expected to respect the right of pedestrians to move freely along the Commons and businesses to operate without undue disturbance by entertainment outside their premises.  The volume of a performance must be reduced upon request or the performer will be asked to vacate from the site. Entertainers may encourage donations but may not aggressively solicit them.
  • Carts may be used to transport performance materials but they cannot remain at the performance site.  The street performer needs to be able to move quickly and completely to the next space.
  • Street performers may sell items that directly pertain to their art (i.e. CDs, t-shirts, etc.).  They may not sell any other items or items for other performers.

External Speakers   Megaphone

City of Ithaca Municipal Code §157-10, entitled “Commons,” require that businesses obtain an External Speaker Permit in order to have a sound system installed and used on the outside of the business.  There is no fee for the permit.