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Ocala
Wednesday, November 17, 2021

City reestablishes ordinance allowing dogs in outdoor seating areas at Ocala restaurants, cafes

An ordinance has been reestablished in Ocala that allows customers to bring their dogs into designated outdoor seating areas at local restaurants and cafes.

Ocala City Council members approved the adoption of this ordinance during last night’s regular meeting.

Around 15 years ago, the state of Florida enacted legislation that allows local governments to adopt exemption procedures, by ordinance, to certain Food and Drug Administration Food Code provisions. This legislation allows dogs to be within certain designated outdoor portions of public food service establishments.

The City of Ocala adopted a prior ordinance in September 2010 to codify these exemption procedures to allow dogs in designated outdoor dining areas.

City staff eventually discovered that the 2010 ordinance was not fully codified and did not include a sunset clause stating that if the ordinance was not readopted or amended by city council prior to October 1, 2011, then it would be repealed.

According to city records, the sunset clause was not included by Municode.com in the published version of the Code of Ordinances, but it was included in the adopted ordinance.

The city council directed staff to amend a section of the ordinance to give the planning director the authority to issue permits to businesses that wish to allow dogs in their outdoor dining areas.

In the event that a food service establishment is sold, the permit would expire automatically, and the new owners would be required to reapply for a permit, according to city records.

The Ocala City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month. It next meets on Tuesday, December 7, at 5 p.m. at the Ocala City Hall, which is located at 110 SE Watula Avenue in downtown Ocala.