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.  Common Council approved a new Fee Schedule for Commons Use Permits beginning January 1, 2016.  Please consider these costs when determining your event's location.

Apply for a Commons Use Permit by completing and submitting this Online Form.  The Ithaca Commons Amenities Map can assist with specifying the specific location on the Commons for your event. We request that the application be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the event date for processing.Common Council adopted new legislation in 2015 and 2016 for the Commons that included changes to a variety of permits including driving on the Commons, Outdoor Dining, Mobile Vending, Street Performers, and more.  You can find more information here.

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 from the City Clerk's Office.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Works now issues permits for a variety of uses on the Ithaca Commons.  Please click a link below for more information about that permit.

For questions or to obtain further information not on this website, please contact the Superintendent's office at (607) 274-6527 or e-mail

Driving on the Commons

  1. Service and business deliver 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!
  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.
To apply to drive on the Commons after 9:00 a.m., please fill out this Application Form and bring to the Superintendent's Office at 108 E. Green St. Room 202, Ithaca, NY  14850.

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.  Beginning September 2018, new sidewalk closure fees are charged for the square footage that is closed off for work sites on the Commons.  The 2019 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

A Mobile Vending agreement is required for all outdoor sales on the Ithaca Commons.

Please print and complete the Mobile Vending Application and send it to the Superintendent of Public Works office, City Hall, 108 E. Green Street, Ithaca, NY  14850, (607) 274-6527 or e-mail to

The Ithaca CommonFood Carts Amenities Map identifies the vending sites available for food and retail sales.  We suggest that you spend some time reviewing the vending sites before you select and commit to a site as the fees are non-refundable.
Fees include the Application Fee ($100 for new vendors/$50 for returning vendors), Security Deposit ($100), and a Use Fee.

  • Security deposit. A refundable security deposit is required for all vendors. All sites are subject to periodic review, and the deposit will be refunded upon final site inspection by the Department of Public Works at the end of the agreement period. Vendors must comply with guidelines for stain removal established by the Department of Public Works/Board of Public Works as noted in the Maintenance Guidelines
  • All fees for the mobile vending agreement must be paid in either cash or check payable to “City of Ithaca”.
Mobile Vending applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis; preference will be given to returning vendors.Incomplete mobile vending applications will not be accepted. 

Please read all of the documents listed below and complete all required documents prior to submission.  The rest of the application packet include:

Mahogany Grill outside

Outdoor Dining

City of Ithaca is preparing for the upcoming outdoor dining season.  If you are planning on having outdoor dining this season, it is important that you read the enclosed Information Sheet, complete the Outdoor Dining Application and provide the required documentation and fees at your earliest convenience so that the outdoor dining permit can be issued in a timely manner.

There are two permits to choose from:  Annual or Seasonal.  The Annual Permit runs from   April 1st through March 31st of the following year.  The Seasonal Permit runs from April 1st through October 31st of the same year.

An Application Fee must be included with the application when it is submitted.  For applicants that have not held outdoor dining permits in the past 3 years, the application fee is $100.  For returning applicants, the fee is $50.


Use Fees are determined by the square footage of the dining area that the restaurant will be utilizing.  These fees are established by the Board of Public Works.  The current fair rental value of land for 2019 is as follows:  $1.46/square foot for Seasonal Permits; $1.76/square foot for Annual Permits. 


In addition, if alcohol will be served in the outdoor dining area, you must receive approval from Common Council, which meets the First Wednesday of each month at 6:00 PM.  Applications must be turned in to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Works at 108 E. Green Street, Ithaca, NY  14850 prior to the Wednesday the week prior to the meeting.  Any applications received after the listed deadlines will be held until the following month’s Council meeting.


Please contact Kathy Servoss at (607) 274-6527 or if you have any questions or concerns.
Outdoor Dining Forms:

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 are 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  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 §157-18, 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; however, the Commons Advisory Board must review and approve the application.  The Board meets the First Monday of each month at 8:30 a.m. in Council Chambers on the Third Floor of 108 E. Green Street, Ithaca.

Dogs on the Commons

Pursuant to Chapter 157 of the City of Ithaca Municipal Code entitled “Commons”, owners and tenants of buildings on the Primary Commons, whose only access is through the Primary Commons may apply for a Dog Permit to walk their animal on a leash or in a carrier to and from their residence or building.  No more than two (2) permits shall be issued for each residential or commercial unit.  This permit is not transferable, and is valid for the duration of the owner’s lease or ownership of the premises on the Commons or for a period of one year, whichever is shorter.

For businesses that require the presence of animals to perform the function of the business, animals are limited to the area between the premises and the closest of the three Primary Commons entrances.  One permit shall cover the business and all of its customers.