Using the examples above, the city completed a parking audit of the district and identified where two replacement car parking spaces could be designated. With the approval of the business district and adjacent neighborhood association, the city converted car parking spaces in front of these restaurants into streetdeck space and restriped the new replacement spaces located within a block of the streetdecks. Then the city amended its sidewalk use permit process to reflect this new, extended use of the public space and issued permits to the restaurants.
The business district’s role is fundamental. Reorganizing car parking spaces effects all business stakeholders. So some level of consensus is necessary for a streetdeck project to win political approval. Fortunately in these examples the business district was well led by Kansteiner, who engaged the whole district and found enough support to move forward.
No net loss of parking was an important element in their proposals. Due to their innovative risk taking, Berlin and Lola’s have attracted numerous local, regional, national newspaper and magazine stories. As media darlings they attract valuable attention to their business districts.
The adjacent neighborhood associations are enthusiastic about their streetdecks. With no net loss of parking their quiet residential streets are not impacted. And since many customers walk or ride bikes to dine and shop in the business district, they see streetdecks as an added amenity to their neighborhood.
Last, but or course not least, are the restaurant’s customers. Navarro and Kansteiner blush at their guests positive experiences. “They are amused by the novelty of eating where they use to park and amazed by the eclectic people watching scene of the sidewalk,” Kansteiner explains.
Luis reports new customers driving by notice the party on his streetdeck and decide that is where they will eat. With brightly colored umbrellas shading the space, guests get a unique, classically SoCal outdoor dining experience.
So while it is not the size of the streetdeck that matters, the twenty plus prized sidewalk dining spaces have become a highly visible calling card for these successful restaurateurs and their business districts. And that does matter.
About Charlie Gandy