Pilot program will allow businesses to turn parking spaces into long-term “parklets”

Oakland North co-editor Cynthia Gorney chills out, on International Park(ing) Day, at a Grand Avenue parklet. Photo by anonymous friendly passer-by.

Oakland North co-editor Cynthia Gorney chills out, on International Park(ing) Day, at a Grand Avenue parklet. Photo by anonymous friendly passer-by.

Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency (CEDA) announced a pilot program Thursday to convert parking spots or unused bus stops into public spaces called “parklets” where people can relax and hang out.

Shop owners, business improvement districts, non-profits and other community organizations have until October 24 to submit a parklet proposal to CEDA outlining where and how the parklet will be built. CEDA will evaluate each parklet proposal based on the site and the design. A parklet needs to be built at least one parking spot from the corner and on a street with a speed limit of 25 mph or less. The parklet should be made with durable materials. Applicants must also demonstrate community support for the project through letters or a signed petition.

Up to eight parklets will be chosen and the winning proposals will be announced on November 4. The first parklet permits are scheduled to be issued in January, giving the green light to selected parklet owners who can then build a platform over the spot and install furniture, plants and other features.

“We are absolutely planning on submitting an application,” said Sal Bednarz, the owner of Actual Cafe in the Golden Gate neighborhood. “I am doing everything I can to make sure we are one of the eight.” He said they will use a lot of the same pieces and materials included in the parklet he built—with help from volunteers and A Place for Sustainable Living—for PARK(ing) Day two weeks ago.

The parklets will be constructed and maintained privately, but are required to be open to the public. According to a CEDA press release, “It is envisioned that the parklets will be located in areas with heavy pedestrian activity to create additional seating for retail patrons and also in areas where there is a desire to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.”

CEDA released guidelines for the design and location of parklets, which they said will minimize traffic and safety concerns. To qualify for a permit, a parklet cannot be more than six feet wide and will generally cover two parking spaces. Owners will be required to install safety features such as reflective posts on the edges of the parklet and a barrier (planter boxes or a railing, for example) between the parklet platform and the road.

Each parklet will be in place for one year, and owners may be given the option to renew their permit for two additional years. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, a pedestrian and cyclist advocacy group, will conduct surveys to assess the effects of the pilot parklets, which need to be properly maintained and a positive addition to the neighborhood.

San Francisco and Emeryville have already established a permanent parklet program, but until now, there has been no such permitting process for parklets in Oakland.

“We are looking forward to doing this,” said Ken Katz, a long-time advocate for a parklet in front of Arizmendi bakery on Lakeshore Avenue. A temporary parklet was created in front of the shop two weeks ago for PARK(ing) Day. “We were really pleased with the turnout and result,” said Katz.

The launch of Oakland’s pilot parklet program came on the heels of the 2011 International PARK(ing) Day, which was observed the weekend of September 16. Various Oakland shops, in addition to Arizmendi and Actual Cafe, set up one-day or weekend parklets, including Farley’s coffee shop and Oaklandish in downtown Oakland.

For more information about the parklet guidelines and application process, click here.

See OaklandNorth.net’s previous coverage of parklets and the 2011 PARK(ing) Day.

One Comment

  1. hey, i think i’ve seen that woman in the picture before. she looks eerily familiar….

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