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Final parklets removed from Downtown Paso Robles

Temporary parklet program comes to an end
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Posted at 8:03 PM, Jan 31, 2022

The temporary parklet program has officially come to a close in Paso Robles.

On Monday, crews removed the final pieces of what were outdoor dining structures in the heart of downtown.

“It's somewhat of a step towards normalcy, I think, and that's helpful that we can kind of see our streets opened up again,” said Anna Rodriguez, the new owner of Odyssey World Café.

The parklets first went up in June of 2020 with approval from the city. During the peak of the program, more than 20 parklets were set up outside different businesses.

“Got k-rail. Set that up. Built some platforms so the restaurants could apply for a permit and use the downtown area,” explained David Athey, City of Paso Robles Engineer.

Since then, roughly 60 parking spots turned alfresco dining have served as a lifeline for many restaurants. This was especially true when there were caps on indoor dining capacity and even indoor closures due to COVID-19.

“When we were able to provide those 30 to 40 seats outside, that was 30 to 40 more meals that we were serving, 30 to 40 more seats that we were filling,” Rodriguez explained.

On November 1, 2021, the temporary parklet program was slated to come to an end. But City Manager Ty Lewis extended the program for 90 days for businesses wanting to continue to utilize the outside seating.

“Now that's up and we're working with the downtown folks to close out the program and restore the downtown to what it was pre-pandemic,” Athey said.

But some restaurants we talked with say they believe the program shouldn’t have ended quite yet.

“We probably have like a 20% increase in takeouts again,” Rodriguez said. “People are staying home again.”

Paso Terra Restaurant says the removal of their parklet is already impacting business.

“On Saturday night, we had to refuse people because they wanted to sit outside,” said owner Andre Averseng. “We are wasting, losing a lot of business because of that.”

With the k-rails gone, and the last parts of the parklets being hauled away, restaurants have their sights on what’s next.

“At Odyssey, we do have a back patio area. We're going to do a little bit of remodeling so we can add some tables out there,” Rodriguez said. “Here in the front of the restaurant, we're going to put up some more awnings. Make it a little bit of protection from the weather.”

Several businesses we talked with said they’d like to see the parklet program come back as a permanent fixture in the downtown due to its success.

Meanwhile, the City of San Luis Obispo is considering making parklets permanent. A draft policy framework is expected to be released this Winter with council consideration and possible adoption in the Spring of this year.