We support the five policy changes (see below) regarding the draft Outdoor Dining Guide as they were articulated in a City and Regional Planning Senior Thesis authored by Cal Poly students Reid Crandell and Aiden Lebow. Their primary faculty advisor was Keith Woodcock, AICP, who has 30 years of planning and development experience. He has advanced certification as a Certified Environmental Planner (CEP) and Certified Urban Designer (CUD).
None of these policies currently appear in this document. They were as follows:
1) the city shall develop design guidelines for parklets,
2) the city shall create independent parklets owned by the city,
3) the city shall develop a permit system to allow private business to operate parklets,
4) the city will charge fees to raise capital from the parklet program, and
5) the city will develop a maintenance program for parklets.
The draft “design guidelines” read more like engineering specifications. Of course engineering specifications are needed. What is missing are guidelines that address the actual appearance of these parklets, more along the lines of our Community Design Guidelines.
Far too many parklets are makeshift with minimal design. The City should desire to find a balance between a cohesive street scene while also allowing room for individual business character. There are many options yet to be explored to create a more cohesive streetscape. For example, the following suggested guidelines (borrowing from the City of San Clemente) are intended to improve the design and aesthetics of parklets by reducing visual clutter and creating a standardized street interface.
A 3-foot buffer zone would provide a consistent appearance and set a regular edge and rhythm. For example, this area could be characterized by traffic rated concrete planters, which should be set at 5’ intervals. The first planter should be set at the corner nearest adjacent oncoming traffic, with subsequent planters spaced every 5-feet.
There should be a list of discouraged elements such as:
Pop-up tents (except in limited circumstances on private property)
Lattice (wood or plastic)
Plastic fences, trellises, or furniture. Plastic or vinyl furniture should be prohibited.
Elevated string lighting
Tall walls, plants or other accessories over 5-feet in height
With regards to the recommendation that the city should create independent parklets owned by the city:
Why couldn’t we provide open access pocket parks and mini-plazas that are free? We might re-imagine the parking strip as a territory that is variously available for uses ranging from picnics, parties, market stalls, street vendors and urban greenery.
It appears inequitable for restaurants to have access to parklets while other businesses do not. Why not provide retailers access to sidewalk space to display their products outdoors? The Parklet Program should specify that there should be no more than six (6) consecutive spaces used for outdoor dining operations. And perhaps most importantly, live entertainment, including but not limited to live music and performances, should not be permitted within the outdoor dining areas. Thank you!