SAN FRANCISCO – While parklets have proven to be a lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic, folks who enjoy outdoor dining in San Francisco may see fewer of them next year, as the city implements new rules.
Establishments face a looming deadline to decide if they’ll keep them.
“We’d like to keep it, we just have to make sure it makes financial sense,” said Amy Morris Gibbs, the general manager at Latin American Club.
The Mission District neighborhood bar reopened last summer after closing for one year and three months. Morris Gibbs said their parklet helped to keep the bar alive for the last year.
“We were in the dark and didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Morris Gibbs. “(The park.et is) giving us more seating. It’s helped our volume and our sales for sure.”
She plans to file an application next month with the city to get a permit to keep the parklet. Currently, her parklet takes up two parking spaces. They may chop it down in half.
“I certainly feel that parklets bring a lot of color and vibrancy to every (street in) The Mission. They invite a lot of foot traffic,” said Wes Takahashi, a worker at Latin American Club.
Restaurants face an application deadline of November 1. The program goes into effect in April 2023 and establishments with parklets that don’t have a permit then will face fines.
San Francisco’s Shared Spaces Program charges $3,000 for taking up the first parking spot and $1,500 for each additional spot. There’s also a $2,000 license fee a year.
The city reports there are currently 1,162 permits given out to restaurants and bars to put up parklets.
As of Friday, the city said 250 businesses have applied to either keep their parklet or build a new one.
“In the winter time, people don’t want to sit outside because it’s too cold,” said Krishnan Elangovan, a manager at Aditi Indian Cuisine.
Aditi Indian Cuisine is about to dismantle its parklet. Elangovan said the city fees are expensive and it’s stressful to constantly clean up the parklet and paint over graffiti.
“In night time, the homeless people come. And they’re throwing trash (into the parklet) and they’re breaking lights on the parklet,” said Elangovan.
Many restaurants told KPIX 5 they’re looking at the financial calculator and the stress calculator to make sure it’s worth the investment.
“We’ll probably do it (for a year) and then check in after that,” said Morris Gibbs.
The city said businesses that make less than $2 million a year can qualify for a discount on parklet fees.
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