After San Diego’s first parklet opened in 2013, architect Christopher Bittner became the city’s go-to parklet guy.
“Right away we had about 20 people contact us and they all wanted one,” Bittner said, of the months after Caffé Calabria in North Park unveiled the city’s first parklet. “But one by one they all eventually backed out.”
Parklets are sidewalk extensions that replace one or two parking spots with public patios with seating and amenities meant to make pedestrian experiences in crowded urban centers more pleasant.
They’ve exploded in popularity in cities across the globe, but San Diego has mostly missed the parklet party. The city’s built just two since it launched a parklet pilot program in 2013. San Francisco, meanwhile, has almost 60 parklets.
Bittner has a few theories about San Diego’s parklet problem. For one, their price – anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, he said – chases off business owners who show interest. But he also said San Diego’s car-centric culture doesn’t help, and the city doesn’t make it easy to build them.
Last summer, the city announced it was taking what it learned during the two-year pilot program and releasing an official parklet permitting policy. It hoped this would make it easier for business owners to pursue them.
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Parklets are yet another business expansion which benefits the adjacent business because they get more seating area, while the public gets less parking and less sidewalk!
This is just yet another "land grab" of the public right of way like all the railings that have gone up outside businesses that allow them to develop our sidewalks into seating areas!
Another stupid city solution to a problem that does not exists... why the heck would I want to sit in a ridiculous "parklet"... when there's no place to park? If I want to sit in a park I will go to a real park!
William — I wonder if the City gets to count these as new Park Space, since we are so far behind in providing even the minimum amount of park and open space for the number of people living here?
I did the parklet thing in San Francisco in front of one of my regular coffee shops. The space was well used in the morning, but only because the inside of the coffee shop had four tables, and the partner bagel shop next door had no seating, it was take away only. That is the only time I have seen it successful. Even then, early in the morning it was nice, but by mid-day not so much, it was a ghost town. The mechanics of it is both its lure and curse. You are sitting literally in the street, the noise from the traffic and the heat from the sun baring down on you is just miserable. I mean, think about how hot your car gets when its parked on the street, same thing. I think its a novel idea for specific cities, but I don't see the conditions in San Diego warranting the need for this widespread. Maybe in the downtown area and Hill Crest, but that's it. Everywhere else offers enough permanent seating, and without shade, I would not want to be sitting on one of those aluminum cans at 2pm. San Francisco is a mild cooler climate than here, so even its hottest afternoon temp is only our early morning start. Just my two cents.
I'm sure most of the high cost for the Parklet is fees for the City. The city is in the business of making money, not to make the city better for its taxpayers. Greed is everything.
@Elmer Walker Elmer my man, tell us who this City person is; this greedy goon who gobbles up all this money at the expense of us citizens.
About 6 years ago, CCDC (before its demise and replacement by Civic San Diego) initiated a program that was to have city staff work with owners of downtown unused open spaces. The program's goal was to have those spaces converted into usable parks or plazas. Two of those identified spaces were those owned by Ralph's (the home of giant planter boxes at the northwest corner of First Ave. and Market Street) and the large unusable space adjoining the fesdreal building (at E Street fron Front to First). Nothing has been done to date to make those spaces pedestrian friendly
Parklet or Pedestrian Plaza a rose by any other name is still a rose. They really aren't pedestrian plaza's but extensions of the businesses that sponsor them. There may be a sign on them saying that they are open to the public but when the business closes all of the seating and tables disappear such as with the pedestrian plaza outside Mama's Bakery. All that is there when the business is closed is a inhospitable space. I think the new rules must require these spaces to actually be hospitable to the public at all hours.