News Parklets in Some Marin Towns Approved Through 2022

For a place with excellent food and mild weather, the Bay Area has historically had very little outdoor dining. A restaurant might have a back patio, but narrow sidewalks and on-street parking has typically limited outdoor seating to a couple small cafe tables out front.

However, much changed with the arrival of the COVID pandemic. As restaurants shuttered their doors and struggled to stay afloat, town governments scrambled to find ways to help them stay in business. A simple fix was applied in Marin, as well as in countless cities and towns across the country: repurposing on-street parking spaces into outdoor seating. This configuration, known as a “parklet,” can allow space for 10-15 people to eat where a single car once parked. Clearly this was a win for restaurants that were otherwise limited to take-out service.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, outdoor dining proved to be a bright light in a dark year. Many people saw how lovely eating al fresco could be, something that they may only have associated with vacations in Mediterranean countries.

Now that indoor dining is becoming an option, what to do with the parklets? Should we tear up the outdoor seating and return our curb space to private cars? Or can we learn something from this novel time about how best to use our precious public space?

While there may always be a need for parking, are the most exciting, most vibrant cities ones where every block is lined with cars? Or are they instead filled with laughing diners, moms chatting over lattes, and open-air live music? The latter certainly seems more fun to us, but too often the third rail of parking is not touched, even if having slightly less of it gets us more of what we actually love.

Some towns in Marin County are choosing to continue this experiment, something that MCBC fully supports.

List of current Parklet status

We’re hoping that these experiments will bear fruit, and that a future time will exist where no one could imagine going back. We urge you, our supporters, to speak out in favor of reimagining our historic downtowns to prioritize people over parking.

  • Fairfax: Parklet program extended to May 2022
  • Mill Valley: Miller Ave outdoor dining extended to November 2022
  • San Anselmo: Currently considering input, community meeting Thursday, May 27th at 7 PM
  • San Rafael: 4th Street outdoor dining extended to November 2022
  • Sausalito: Caledonia Street outdoor dining extended to October 2021

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