Sacramento Prepares for Parklets

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SACRAMENTO–

The Sacramento City Council is expected to give the Public Works Department some guidance on how it can begin the process of approving mini-parks placed street parking spaces.

“Parklets” were conceived in San Francisco just three years ago and have been embraced by cities and neighborhoods all over the world. It’s a way of making it more attractive for walkers, bicyclists and residents linger near businesses to relax and socialize.

In the space used for a parking spots, business pay for the privilege of putting structures like benches, seats, tables and awnings in their parklets.

“It’s going to be utilized by people not just cars anymore,” said Matthew Winkler, an operations manager for the Public Works Department.

The idea has the potential of bringing in more people to a business or street, even if they cut the number of parking spots — which can be in short supply in some parts of mid-town.

City officials say there are plenty of off-street parking spaces, although people may have to walk several blocks to their destination.

Justin Morgan was eating at Pangea’s Restaurant, which created a demonstration parklet in a parking space on the curb.

“We were here before and we had to park down the block which was a pain in the butt,” said Morgan.

But he also said the concept has the potential of bringing more people to the block and make it more family friendly.

“I definitely think it’s a good idea,” said Morgan.

Bicyclist Paulina Chordas, who was having lunch at the restaurant, says losing parking spots won’t affect her.

“I really like having outdoor space and I feel it can be a really cool addition to the neighborhood,” said Chordas.

The city says business might be required to pay as much as $2,000 a year for an annual parklet permit, and pay to install their own parklet design.  Not all will require street parking spots if little used loading zones, or no-parking areas, are converted.

“We don’t want to put it where it’s so bad that parking (there’s) no way it can fit there,” said Winkler.

The Public Works Department will develop rules and regulations for the installation of parklets after getting input from the city council.  A key consideration is whether the parklets will be for the exclusive use customers of the businesses that install them, or if they will be open to the public like public parks.

Some cities give business exclusivity, but the majority don’t. In San Francisco, where business pay tens of thousands of dollars for parklets, all members of the public are allowed to use them.

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