City considering parklet guidelines

City considering parklet guidelines

Michele Ellson
Alameda parklet

A parklet is installed on Park Street, September 21, 2012.

The city is considering guidelines for the installation of parklets that would trade parking spots for new, public gathering spaces.

The Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to recommend an amended set of guidelines to the Planning Board, which is expected to consider approval of the guidelines on July 22.

Both Planning Board president David Burton and member John Knox White were involved in the creation of the city’s first parklet, an urban garden-themed spot installed in front of Tucker’s Ice Cream on Park Street last September to celebrate PARK(ing) Day, an international effort to transform parking spots into the microparks. Burton told the commission than more than 300 people stopped by to check the group’s parklet out.

“They provide a great opportunity for community to happen,” Burton said of the parklets. “People were so happy to have a space on Park Street where you could step off the street and sit.”

Burton, Knox White and Donna Eyestone helped the city craft the guidelines, for which they examined parklet guidelines in San Francisco, where they have become prevalent, and San Jose. (Full disclosure: Eyestone is a freelance videographer for The Alamedan.)

The guidelines recommended by the Transportation Commission would require business owners, community groups or others interested in creating a parklet to apply for permission from the city, which would review applications using a team made up of staffers from several departments. In addition to the city, applicants would need to win the approval of three of four neighboring property owners. Anyone who opposes a proposed parklet can appeal its approval.

The parklets cost an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 to install, Knox White said, and they would be installed, maintained and removed at the applicant’s expense. Permits would be reviewed and renewed annually.

He said the city could expect “a couple applications” to install new parklets once the guidelines go into effect.

The parklets, which would bear a sign letting the public know they’re invited to use them, would take up a minimum of one parking space and could be any length, provided property owners who front onto the spaces taken up agree.

One of the four commissioners who backed the guidelines, Chris Miley, praised the parklet plan.

“It’s very innovative and great way to use existing public space. As the speaker said, it’s a great way to bring the community together,” Miley said.

But commissioner Michele Bellows questioned whether they’re appropriate everywhere. She added an amendment to the recommended guidelines barring them in residential areas.

“I don’t think they’re appropriate in residential areas,” Bellows said. “It’s a fun thing in a business area, but I don’t see that.”

Commission president Jesus Vargas asked whether permit costs included the loss of parking fees when parking spots and their meters are removed. Public Works Director Matt Naclerio said that it wasn’t, though applicants will pay the city’s processing costs and an encroachment permit fee.

“Staff felt that overall that would be nominal, and the benefit of additional public space would outweigh the cost,” Naclerio said.

The Planning Board could approve the revised guidelines or make changes themselves. Their meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, July 22 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Related: From parking to park: An urban oasis appears in Alameda


Submitted by Disappointed Ta... on Tue, Jul 2, 2013

I think this is an inspiration of ridiculous absurdity. As if Alameda has parking to spare for prison cell sized parks, or that the city, or its commission would encourage people to enjoy hanging out in the street! Don't we still try to teach our children NOT to play in the street?

Why don't we encourage people to shop in our business districts by providing more parking? Our city (mis) manager laments our declining sales tax revenue But we will hike parking fees and reduce our parking spaces? Here in Alameda we don't seem to even have enough parking at our parks. To consider such a crazy idea while our city mis-managers work to oppose East Bay Regional Park District from acquiring the land adjacent to Crab Cove exemplifies how far off the rails the crazy train of Alameda leadership has gone.
As a tax payer, I am horrified.

Submitted by Luke (not verified) on Mon, Aug 12, 2013

because more parking doesn't attract shoppers, especially not local ones (and let's face it, Alameda is not going to start attracting anyone from San Francisco or even Oakland no matter how much "free" parking is provided). Walkable public space does, however.

And no, children playing safely in the street is a sure sign of a healthy, safe community.

Perhaps you might prefer Walnut Creek?