Permanent outdoor dining parklets in SF? Why not everyone is on board

Kate Larsen Image
ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Outdoor dining parklets could become permanent in SF
Parklets have popped up by the thousands in San Francisco -- A temporary solution to pandemic dining, that is now up for permanent discussion.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Parklets have popped up by the thousands in San Francisco -- A temporary solution to pandemic dining, that is now up for permanent discussion.

"It helped us survive. Without the parklets I don't think we would have been able to come back as we did," said West of Pecos manager, Josselyn Bonilla.

She's proud of her parklet and says they still need the table space that extends into Valencia Street.

RELATED: Parklets forever? Proposed CA law could make outdoor dining easier post-pandemic

"There's only so much we can do with the sidewalks, that's why the parklets are such an important part," she explained.

Based on the busy outside dining Monday night, many seem to agree.

"My job is fully remote now, so being able to sit outside in the sun and the wind, it's really good for my mental health," said Mission District resident, Ally Hollier.

But even Hollier has some concerns, "I do think there's been some negative side effects of them being in the bike lane."

San Francisco's Land Use and Transportation Committee is weighing legislation. After hours of public comment Monday night, supervisors continued the issue until June 7 to further discuss handicap accessibility, how public the spaces should really be, and transportation.

RELATED: SJ extends 'Al Fresco' program just before outdoor dining initiative was set to expire

"You have to understand the tips and tricks of finding parking in the city," said Mohamed Zein, who lives on Valencia and needs his car to get to work.

Zein feels like City Hall is actively trying to make car ownership difficult, saying, "Friday, Saturday, Sunday these streets are closed for outdoor dining. So if you live here, which we do, it's just impossible to find parking. You have to take your car early in the morning, just drive around."

Parklets literally expand business opportunities by creating space. On the other hand, by taking up space, they make access more difficult for potential customers.

"The parklets do impact the parking availability for our customers and so quick drop-offs and pickups can be difficult, but then also customers who are just interested coming from out of town don't have places to park as much and then can't get to our shop as easily," said Nicholas Meyhouse, who manages a clothing store and says a lot of Mission District retailers are losing customers.

"I think the parklets were a good decision for the short term, but I don't know if they're necessary for the long-term."

After a devastating year, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association wants City Hall to provide San Francisco restaurants with stability by making the parklets permanent now.

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