San Francisco is making outdoor dining in former parking spots a permanent fixture in the city.
Supervisors voted Tuesday night on an ordinance that establishes rules for what are commonly called “parklets.”
It’s been the one thing besides take-out that has helped restaurants in the city weather the financial hardships of the pandemic.
“All the restaurateurs, all the bar owners want to keep these parklets,” said Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza.
He said the extra tables are needed to help businesses get back on their feet and to help cover new costs of higher wages.
“If we can’t make up for the lost income, by just having some additional seating, I don’t know where we’ll be,” said Gemignani.
Tourists give the parklets two thumbs up, too.
“It’s very enjoyable to be eating outside,” said Libby Maynard of Boston. “I love it.”
“I think in many ways it’s an improvement. We’ve seen it in a number of city’s,” said Nick Maynard of Boston. “We saw it in LA, and we see it here. It’s nice to be in the fresh air.”
And maybe it adds to the international experience many people feel when they visit the city’s diverse neighborhoods filled with shops and eateries from around the globe.
“All of the au fresco dining has that european feeling to it,” said Gemignani.
Even lots of San Franciscans who complain about the lack of parking, like the idea of permanent parklets.
“Even though they take up parking, I still think they should stay,” said Sherrie Szalay of San Francisco.
It’s a give and take, but not a giveaway. The city will likely lose some parking income, but business owners will pay for the spots.
Fees are one of the items supervisors will talk about before making a final decision on the future of the shared spaces.