By next spring, some E Pike parking spaces might be generating a lot more than $2 per hour.
“These are public space — anybody can bring food, etc from anyplace. No waiter comes out, serves you. These are not sidewalk cafes,” said Brian de Place, head of “Right of Way Management” for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
What these are, are parklets.
Fixed, structured and curb-side, parklets are a hot new urbanist feature. Vancouver has them. Of course, SF, too – more than 30 of the parklets now exist across the city. They displace street parking in favor of a place for people to sit, hang out — and, hopefully, participate in some lucrative local commerce.
“We are intertested in allowing and permitting these should we find specific communities and business areas want them,” de Place tells CHS about efforts in the city to create these kinds of spaces by spring 2013.
In many ways, the parklet is the legitimate cousin of efforts like the annual Park(ing) Day that encourages utilization of a handful of street parking spots around the city as temporary parking spots and guerilla efforts like the Renegade Planners Collective. The RPC, by the way, will be active Thursday at Denny and Olive with the Four Car Park project.
One area CHS has heard about parklet interest is E Pike. The Pike/Pine nightlife zone has been looked at as a pedestrian laboratory before — remember Sally Clark’s plan to create a nighttime pedestrian zone in the area? But one likely neighborhood candidate, Big Mario’s Dave Meinert, says he’s not pushing for a parklet right now. Still, the street could be ideal — if you can get over the whole giving up a parking space thing.
The math may favor the parklet. Consider the $24 a day in paid parking revenue a single spot may generate for the city. Let’s say three of those go to create a parklet. Then subtract from those 70 bucks the cost of the paid parking system and the parking police required to enforce the program. The amount of business a parklet needs to help generate to achieve parity is likely modest. Meanwhile, there are added benefits for a community that wants a pedestrian-focused and traffic-calming environment.
But first, the community has to ask for it. de Place says the permits will be driven by local businesses and will utilize existing application and review processes. The spaces must comply with safety regulations including precautions to make the seating areas safe from passing traffic. “If we allow them, we want to make sure they’re successful,” de Place said.