Temporary Storage Containers

A temporary storage container, also known as portable on-demand storage (POD), is a temporary, transportable, movable or portable container that is delivered to and placed outdoors for storage purposes. Only residents may apply for an encroachment permit to place a storage container on the street. City Council approved permitting storage containers in the public right-of-way on February 16, 2021.

A container may be placed on private property, such as a driveway, without an encroachment permit for short-term uses such as moving provided the container does not encroach into the sidewalk or street. (Check with the City's Planning Division for longer term restrictions on placing on private property.) Encroachment permits for placement of temporary storage containers in the public right-of-way will only be issued when there is insufficient space on private property to accommodate placement.

Permit Application Requirements

The following documents must be submitted to obtain a permit for placing a temporary storage container on the street. Applications can be submitted in-person at the Public Works Department counter located at San Mateo City Hall or emailed to pwencroachment@cityofsanmateo.org. Once all required documents are received, a minimum of 10 business days is needed to process, review, and issue a permit. Temporary 'No Parking' signs can be purchased at the Public Works Department counter to reserve a parking space for the storage container.

  1. Completed Encroachment Permit Application
  2. Certificate of General Liability Insurance with endorsements (See Temporary Storage Container Packet)
  3. A sketched site plan or map mark-up showing the containers proposed location, applicant's residence, adjacent driveways, proximity to street corners, container dimensions, and if applicable, fire hydrants, accessible curb ramps, bus stops, and colored curb markings. (See Example Sketched Site-Plan)
  4. Payment for required fees and security deposit* per the current fee schedule. Checks, Visa, and Mastercard are accepted. Checks can be made to the City of San Mateo.

*Deposits will be refunded after inspection by the Public Works Inspector. The Permittee must email pwinspection@cityofsanmateo.org 72 hours in advance of the container's removal date to request an inspection.

Where can a container be located?

Containers placed on the street must be eight feet or less in width and be placed in the following locations.

  • In front of the permittee’s residence. If the space in front of permittee’s residence is insufficient or causes an obstruction, container may be placed at the next closest, appropriately sized on-street space and courtesy notification from the permittee to the property owner(s) or tenant(s) nearest to the container is required. (See Courtesy Notification Template)
  • In a legal parking space adjacent to the curb
  • On residential streets with a marked centerline provided a 10-foot travel lane is maintained
  • On residential streets with unmarked parking stalls and without a centerline provided a 12-foot, clear path-of-travel for vehicles is maintained
  • In compliance with Chapter Three of the 2019 California Fire Code

The container may not be placed:

  • In front of driveways, bus stops, accessible curb ramps, fire hydrants, colored curb markings (i.e. blue, green, red, yellow, and white zones), and pedestrian crosswalks (striped or unstriped)
  • In a manner that restricts access to public utilities on the street or sidewalk, such as a storm drain, utility box or vault, fire standpipe, or fire department connections
  • Where the container impairs visibility or creates unsafe conditions for vehicles, bicyclists, and/or pedestrians 

How long can a container be on the street?

With an approved permit, a container is allowed on the street for a maximum of seven days. Applicants may request to renew their permit for up to an additional seven days. Permit renewals must be approved by City staff and are contingent upon whether valid, safety-related complaints have been received about the temporary storage container.

Storage Container Maintenance

The container must have reflectors at each corner and a copy of the encroachment permit must be posted on the container. It is the responsibility of the Permittee to ensure these requirements are met. 

The Permittee is responsible for maintaining the container in a safe condition and good appearance to the satisfaction of the City. Repair of any damages to the public infrastructure (street, curb, street tree, etc.) by the placement of the container is the responsibility of the Permittee and not the provider of the temporary storage container.

Relevant Documents


For questions about storage containers, email pwencroachment@cityofsanmateo.org or call Public Works at (650) 522-7300.