SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – It looks like these pandemic-era parklets for outdoor eating and drinking are here to stay, in San Francisco. The city’s supervisory board voted unanimously on Tuesday to make them permanent.
The parklets are part of the so-called shared spaces program which was first introduced by London Breed following the city’s Stay at Home order last year, to support businesses during the shutdown . Many restaurateurs credit parklets for saving their business.
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âShared Spaces has brought new life and excitement to our neighborhoods during an incredibly difficult time. It has been wonderful to see friends and families benefiting from their community and supporting their local businesses, âMayor Breed said in a statement. “By taking the necessary steps to make shared spaces permanent, we are offering another lifeline for local businesses to thrive and creating a clear path to rebuilding our economy as San Francisco recovers from COVID-19.”
Bar owners like Tony Cooney of The Showdown in North Beach want the parklets to remain permanent.
âWe put a lot of money into those, it would be nice not to have to tear it down,â Cooney said. âDefinitely increase the seating capacity, I mean the interior was fine, but having 30 or 40 extra seats outside is really helpful,â Cooney said.
âI just think this is a wonderful and wonderful new program that will be formalized in the future for our city and will help our city to thrive and help our small businesses recover,â said Ahsha Safai. , supervisor from San Francisco.
Small businesses will not have to pay license fees for two years.
The council also expanded the program to include public parklets for other uses such as the arts and entertainment.
âFor us financially these parklets brought business – since we weren’t allowed to sit inside – so having these parklets and continuing to social distancing outside was a savior for us, âsaid Ryan Moran, CEO of The Dorian.
Marina restaurant and bar Dorian said that since reopening, sales have reached pre-pandemic levels thanks to its park and outdoor seating. They added around 130 seats outside to the existing 198 inside.
âI think it’s great, especially for local businesses, things like that to stay open, to make up for lost income in restaurants and stuff,â said Adam Rajhboy, a San Francisco resident. I mean I understand the parking situation – the parking situation was always bad.
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The council also voted to ensure the spaces can be used when not being used for business purposes during daylight hours.
Parklets mean more customers for restaurants and bars, but not everyone is on board.
Some residents with cars say it is extremely difficult to find parking as there are fewer spaces available now.
âI think they should be taken out,â said Joe Cohen, a North Beach resident. “You can’t park anywhere in San Francisco anymore.”
âTo accommodate the locals, you have to remove them, because locals park at these places,â Cohen said.
But many retailers have expressed that parklets are bad for business because they hide their storefronts and displays, making them invisible.
Residents also expressed concern about the noise factor with parklets so close to their apartments and houses.
Under the new legislation, businesses can apply for a permit to erect a parklet on a new application portal. Mom and Pop stores would be exempt from paying thousands of license fees until 2022, while large retail chains would have to pay the fee.
For more information visit sf.gov/shared-spaces.
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Kenny Choi and Betty Yu contributed to this story.