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Fairfax May Experiment with a Parklet

Town officials are looking into turning a parallel parking space into a public space with seating and giving it a temporary try for six months to a year. Do you like the concept of a parklet?

 

Fairfax Town officials are looking into experimenting with a parklet – or a small urban park in the space of a parallel parking spot – in downtown Fairfax.

Parklets, which are becoming increasingly common in San Francisco and other cities, include seating and possibly vegetation, bicycle parking or tables.

“Parklets take a parking space and make public space,” Jim Moore, Fairfax Director of Planning, told the Fairfax Town Council at its Nov. 7 meeting.

The Fairfax Planning Commission created an ad-hoc subcommittee that’s working on a pilot parklet project.

“The idea, in the spirit of Fairfax and volunteerism, is to make it fun,” Moore said.

The committee has been meeting with the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and looking into testing a parklet at a temporary location for six months to a year. 

Town officials will work with local business to determine the exact placement of the parklet and to see if any want to sponsor it or help with the design or implementation.

“We are hoping to get a collaborative relationship from sponsors and to reach out to businesses so there are no feathers ruffled,” Moore said.

Councilman Larry Bragman said parklets in San Francisco have benefited nearby businesses.

It’s not clear where the funding will come from to create the parklet, but Moore said town funds won’t be spent on parklet aside from a bit of staff time.

According to the San Francisco Pavement to Parks parklet permit in the attached staff report, parklets are “intended to provide space for people to sit and relax and enjoy the city around them, especially where narrow sidewalks would otherwise preclude such activities. They are intended to be seen as a piece of street furniture, providing aesthetic enhancement to the overall streetscape.”

During public comment, Fairfax resident Tony Yudice said he thought a parklet was a good alternative to permanently closing down Bolinas Road downtown to create more public space. But he had a concern about the increasing number of cars coming to town.

“As Fairfax is expanding into people’s lives, there are a lot more people coming here and it’s awful hard to find parking on the weekends,” Yudice said. “How will we address the number of cars that we will continue to have here?”

Moore said the town pursuing managed and monetized parking would be a way address future parking issues, such as a system that incentives people who are going to be in town longer to park further outside of downtown. 

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C Ross November 15, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Good Earth at the new location is generating the worst of the traffic and parking congestion. I think it's the GE lot that should be turned into a parklet! And with all their focus on green, green, green, their employees should use public transportation and vanpools. Perhaps they should also use their old parking lot and have a shuttle to the new store.
Susan Clifford November 16, 2012 at 05:54 AM
I would like to suggest the possibility that parking on Bolinas may in fact be hurting businesses. I know, I know, it's counter intuitive. Assumptions that seem obvious are sometimes wrong (i.e. the earth is flat), and we fail to look at the evidence. I have now spent many hours reading about this topic and looking at examples of pedestrian squares and malls (not what I should be doing, but it is rather compelling). If parking on Bolinas prevents an enjoyable walking experience, it is likely bad for business, particularly with the kinds of shops located there.
C Ross November 16, 2012 at 06:06 AM
As someone who frequently walks downtown, there are two things that would make it more enjoyable for me, neither of which has anything to do with cars. (I've actually had more problems with cyclists riding on the sidewalk, though there are a couple of troublesome crosswalks that neither cars nor bikes stop at: 1) Repair the broken, uneven sidewalks. (I've fallen twice and tripped, twisted my ankle, etc., numerous times 2) Ban smoking, or at least enforce the no-smoking ordinance. The smoke -- I'm very allergic -- and litter from cigarettes is overwhelming and disgusting. (I think that parklets would mostly be used by smokers)
Jessica Mullins November 19, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Y'all have done a great job of having a civil and interesting discussion without violating any of our commenting guidelines. Thank you!! I also like the idea of not allowing smoking in the parklet. We'll see what happens next!

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