Central Coast parklets: Paso Robles ends program, while Pismo Beach extends it
Outdoor dining became a popular option at the start of the pandemic, with cities around the nation allowing restaurants to extend their dining areas onto sidewalks and in city parking spots in order to keep themselves financially afloat.
But now, two years into the pandemic, cities are debating what to do with the parklets. Paso Robles decided to end the program.
“The parklets have all been removed from the downtown, freeing up some much needed parking," said Paso Robles City Manager Ty Lewis.
Lewis said with the removal of all 20 parklets, 60 parking spots are back open. But he said with community interest in outdoor dining, the city is exploring longer term options with community development expected to bring forward ideas to council sometime in spring.
But, while Paso Robles ended the program, the City of Pismo Beach voted to extend its own temporary program.
“I think it's a great resource for our whole community," said Sarah Paddock with Chip Wrecked in Pismo Beach.
Paddock said although she took her parklet down this week due to tourism slowing in the winter months, she thinks keeping the parklets is a game charger for both business owners and customers.
“I still think it’s a great idea for downtown," Paddock said. "My retail neighbors have done nothing but praise it, they enjoy the extra traffic, they enjoy that our customers go out there and shop their shops.”
Pismo Beach City Council stopped short during Tuesday's meeting in voting to establish a permanent outdoor parking program, but Mayor Ed Waage said parklets aren’t an easy issue.
“There are some tough things we have to deal with and this is one of them that is always going to be tough to try to balance all the competing interests," said Waage. "But, I think we had a good discussion and I'm pleased with the resolution at this time.”
While Pismo Beach extended the program till September 30, the City of San Luis Obispo is considering making the parklets permanent. The council is expected to review a formal draft of that plan sometime in the next couple of months.