Parklets could be a permanent fixture in Arroyo Grande as the city looks to create a permanent program for expanded outdoor dining.
Parklets in the Village of Arroyo Grande helped to keep businesses alive through the height of the pandemic. The city now wants to make them a permanent fixture.
"Having the parklets out here has really saved our businesses, that's just a fact," said Denise Andrini, Owner of Café Andrini.
Extra space for outdoor dining was a temporary fix to keep businesses open while indoor dining wasn't allowed.
With the economy back open, parklets in the City of Arroyo Grande could stick around.
"We first, as a city, did a survey and the community supported keeping parklets," said Arroyo Grande City Councilmember Jimmy Paulding.
There were 1,021 residents who responded to that survey. 71% were strongly in favor of keeping parklets while nearly 13% were strongly opposed, with others somewhat for or against the move.
"Some of the businesses here in the village obviously don't have a parklet or the opportunity to utilize one, and they're losing parking," said Paulding. "So we have to figure out how to make it fair."
The city is now looking to address those concerns.
A permanent program would require businesses to pay a monthly fee. The potential cost is now raising concern among some business owners.
"At some point, there's a breaking point where it wouldn't be cost-effective for some of us smaller businesses to be able to afford it," said Andrini.
The city is planning to make sure that the parklets are spaced out so there's enough parking in between.
Businesses, meanwhile, plan to beautify their outdoor dining areas if a permanent program is adopted.
"I would love to see it look nicer, obviously they're just like k-rails that the city installed. I would love to see something with some flowers or some greenage," said Laura Beth Amy, manager of Humdinger Brewing. "I love walking through the village and seeing people that I know. Otherwise, they would be inside the business, now they're sitting outside."
Others are now hoping to make the parklet blend in with the area.
The goal is to change with the times while staying true to the historic character of the village.
"I was born and raised here, I raised my kids here and i think the village is unique," said Andrini. "I want it to stay unique, but i also think we have to grow with the times."
The creation of a permanent parklet program would also mean the permanent loss of parking spaces in the village.
The City of Arroyo Grande is looking to add parking spaces elsewhere to make up for that loss.
The City Council discussed the issue in their meeting Tuesday night.
“After hearing from business owners and members of the community, the majority of the Council voted to continue with developing a permanent parklet program, which—in my opinion—will address the aesthetic, safety, and fairness concerns raised," Paulding told KSBY. "Staff will bring a more refined program to the City Architectural Review Committee, Planning Commission, and then back to the City Council for final approval.”