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Parklets Coming To Lafayette

Graphic: City of Lafayette

Voyagers outside of our leafy valleys may have seen the novel, often ingeniously crafted little islands of human presence pressing out into major thoroughfares in San Francisco or Berkeley in an effort to reclaim a portion of those thoroughfares for human use.

… and to slow traffic, and hopefully in a good way.

If approved as expected by the City Council at their June 27 meeting, Lafayette will be trying out two parklets of its own on a trial basis commencing July 1, providing more outdoor seating to two local businesses and announcing, perhaps, that people should feel comfortable out in the street and that we’re willing to reclaim them.

These two pioneering islands of human presence will be located outside Panache and El Jarro Mexican Cafe and will be in place through Nov. 1. Four parking spaces will be sacrificed to make way for wayfaring humans who don’t mind eating a few feet away from a traffic lane.

How about you? Good idea? Would you utilize a parklet? Or would the vagaries of local driving habits be too disconcerting?


  1. I’ve been to two in the city and they are kind of fun once you get over the sense of vulnerability to local traffic. Businesses adopt the parkets and add all sorts of trimmngs (the one we visited had a fountain with recycled water!!) Anyone who has visited Europe knows that streets are often reclaimed and used for outdoor seating ona routine basis. I would be in favor here, even though I would be weary until people (drivers) got used to them.

  2. Getting people out of their cars would be a good thing but I’m not sure I could have a relaxed lunch with traffic so close. It’s a good idea whose time has come but I’m worried about the learning curve as drivers figure out what they are seeing ahead.

  3. Oooh – I don’t know. I can see the approach to Mount Di there at Panache being one but traffic really gets going outside El Jarro. I think I’d be tempted to eat inside and watch what happens to people in the parkelet.

  4. Good idea!
    I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them, it’s worth the loss of one or two parking spaces for a place where a dozen people and sit and enjoy instead.

  5. I like the idea, and have enjoyed them in Europe, but only for something to drink for a few minutes. I’m “too cautious” to enjoy a “full meal” near the streets. There are no victims… only volunteers.

  6. I appreciate and understand the desire to make downtown more pedestrian friendly but I also can’t imagine sitting eating or drinking amid exhaust fumes, car horns and blaring stereos bad enough when you are behind glass and not just feet away. I know this is popular thinking and I support the concept but until you are able to remove really big cars and trucks (and their drivers) from the equation I don’t think I’ll be venturing out into the street!!!

  7. I don’t know about putting them on Mont Diablo. Maybe on one of the side streets?? Where there are trees and things???

  8. Is the primary purpose to reclaim the street for people, slow traffic down, or provide more seating to local businesses. Why not just close down stretches of the street where traffic can be diverted on certain times of the month?

  9. I would have to question the positioning of these structures. Traffic moves pretty quickly in there and we have seen that people here have trouble staying in their lanes. I would agree that it would be best not to do it halfway and close off a block or two at a time. The city wants to bring more people downtown or slow traffic? What’s the purpose again??

  10. I’ve read all of your comments and am appreciative for your feedback.

    A lot of thought was put into potential Lafayette parklet locations — side streets, for example, were strongly considered. The design of the pilot parklets was also thought through carefully with hopes that an inviting space could be created, even so close to the road. And there is hope that the presence of the parklets and people on them will serve as a traffic calming measure. I get the concern about no wanting to inhale exhaust while you dine, too. I commute to and from work by bike and being exposed to exhaust is one of my biggest frustrations during my commute.

    The purpose of the parklets is to try to allocate more space in the downtown to people, inviting people to walk around downtown more and spend more time downtown.

    Please feel free to email me or call me with your thoughts if you happen to see or visit the parklets. We will be installing them this Friday. Feel free to say hi if you see us out there installing them, too :).

    I’m anxious to gather data and see what kind of responses we are receiving about the parklets after they have been in place for a couple of months.

    Thanks again,

    Adam Foster
    City of Lafayette
    Code Enforcement Officer/Assistant Planner

    • Ah, so nice to hear from Adam on this! Thank you, Adam, obviously people are interested in this project and have strong views about them. We built this site in the hope that public officials would be able to hold open and constructive discussions with the public and your input goes a long way toward making that dialogue possible. Thank you again!

  11. Gladly. As a former journalist (briefly in college), I appreciate sites like this that bring communities together.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions that I may have missed in my response above. Three public hearings were held on the parklets and we spent a lot of time writing reports on our studies of parklets, from design to usage to impacts on the business community. If there’s more that can be learned, contemplated, and discussed consider me interested.

  12. It IS nice to hear from a city official on this. I found that very refreshing and informative at the same time. So thanks to Mister Foster. I may try to swing by and watch the construction of these mini parks Friday. I checked the link to materials and design and didn’t see any bollards or planters that I think someone else here mentioned?? My only question is will there be anything SOLID between someone sitting in a parklet and an oncoming car?? It would be good to know before I led the family out into one!

  13. A couple of good margaritas and I’ll sit in the middle of the street if they’d let me. But after reading this I have to wonder if shutting of the street blocks at a time isn’t better – it lets drivers know it will happen occasionally and that they need to slow down. Parklets are hip and sound fun but I don’t want to be a guinea pig.

  14. Good discussion. I’m for returning the downtown to pedestrians but I’m not sure this is the way. Can anyone tell us how businesses do when Mt. Diablo is closed for the wine and art fair? The idea of having dinner at a nice QUIET table in the middle of the street appeals to me.

  15. Brendan, the perimeter frame for the parklet is made of pressure treated 6x6s. If you check out the parking stops on the west side of Diamond K parking area, you’ll see that they use 6x6s instead of concrete blocks. The parklet 6x6s will be fastened to the street with 8″ screw anchors that will go 4-5″ into the road.

    In addition to the 6×6 frame, which is similar to the height of a sidewalk curb, there will be a redwood fence (4×4 posts, redwood rails and aluminum balusters) around the majority of the perimeters of the parklets. The perimeters will also include space for planter boxes.

    Lastly, there will be rubber parking blocks 4 feet from the sides of the parklet that run perpendicular to the sidewalk and plastic tubes with reflective collars at the street-side corners of the parklet.

    I think the materials that are going to be installed will be solid enough to make potential parklet users feel comfortable. But that is something that we will certainly assess as we’re doing the installation this Friday and as the trial period is going on. Safety and comfort for potential users are paramount for the pilot parklet project.

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