Pleasanton forces restaurant to tear down popular parklet

Pleasanton – Pleasanton is requiring all downtown businesses to remove their outdoor parklets, tents and other street dining setups by Friday so that crews can clear streets and cut trees, but some restaurant owners are insisting on orders, Which he says will cost him thousands of dollars and eliminate critically needed food options during a massive COVID spike.

“For them to take these things out right now, I find it very surprising,” Maurice Dessels, owner of Oyo restaurant on Main Street, said in an interview.

“This is wrong. The timing is really bad,” Council member Julie Testa said at the council’s January 4 meeting.

The order is part of the city’s plan to allow restaurant owners along Main Street to apply for permits to set up permanent parklets in street parking spaces outside their businesses, which are the city’s temporary “pop-ups”. ” is based on the popularity of the program, which was hastily put on hold. The place as a lifeline for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

City council and staff are working on a “pre-approved” parklet design business that will be able to be used to ensure that structures are safe, consistent in appearance and where they can be used for drainage, emergency access or interference with traffic. will not do.

City planner Megan Campbell told the council in December that the pop-up tents were well received by parklet residents and visitors, adding “some criticism, including their presence, impending commercial visibility, impact on utilities and impact on traffic.” Are included. “

“Temporary pop-ups are unsightly,” Mayor Carla Brown said at the January 4 meeting. “We’re ready to turn the corner and make these parklets look like Pleasanton.”

The city’s pre-approved designs are expected to be ready after April. Businesses will soon be able to submit their own designs following city specifications, but will likely not be issued permits before March 1, city employees said.

To make sure everyone starts on the same footing, and thorough cleaning of roads, pruning of trees and utility inspections have been postponed, city officials say all existing parks should be pulled out. needed.

Diesels said he had a professional contractor build his colorful wooden parklets in the parking spaces in front of his Guyana and South American-inspired restaurants, and it cost him upwards of $10,000.

He thinks the parklet will only need minor modifications to meet the new standards, and hopes the city will allow it to remain in place after inspection.

“To be honest, I can’t afford to rebuild a functional Parklet that I have now,” he said.

“It is not a portable thing; It is not modular. As they are suggesting, we either cut it, or we check how much it is in line with their new standards,” he said.

Nearby, beer baron Whiskey Bar & Kitchen also added a parklet in June, said owner Harpreet Judge, who spent about $12,000 to build it. He is similarly hoping for a relief.

“The city should definitely reach out and visit each individual parklet. And if they want us to make changes, we’ll be happy to do so.”

“But to ask us to take them all out and then they’ll give us directions and then we put them back in, one it’s going to be time consuming… and second, it’s going to be very expensive,” the judge said.

Diesels and Judge said many of their customers prefer to eat outside, especially amid the growing proliferation of the Omicron variant. The judge said many people have already canceled private indoor events at beer barons because of the increase.

“It probably won’t be too long to come to the county and only come outside, or inside a limited number of seats,” the judge said.

City employees said that once there is a permanent parklet, Pleasanton plans to do maintenance work around the parklet, sharing more maintenance responsibility with the parklet owners, and some to allow tree pruning. Temporary closure may be required.

“It seems absurd and illogical and rude to say that they should be removed for maintenance, when we are acknowledging that future maintenance will be possible without removal,” Testa said.

Acting City Manager Brian Dolan said the city thinks some of the more elaborate parklets may need “some significant remodeling” to meet the new standards.

“Trying to accommodate some of them, which isn’t really fair to everyone during this period when we want to clean up, doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Dolan said at the meeting.

The Pleasanton Community Development director said the city needed to do more than a thorough cleaning of the street, with the parklets gone over the course of about eight weeks.

“When we allowed them to be installed, we didn’t really review things, are these going to be built over a manhole, is there proper drainage, so it goes beyond just meeting the design or dimensional standards, ‘ she said in an interview.

Clark said the new Parklet specifications will be designed to more easily allow for maintenance and inspection work.

“The ones that are parklets, for the most part, we think will not be able to provide this facility,” she said. If restaurants don’t comply with parklet removal orders, they could be fined, Clarke said, but the city will work with the owners first.

Design and looks aside, Testa said this week she was concerned for restaurant customers as well, and felt the removal deadline should be pushed back. “Are we really comfortable with a COVID spike turning down outdoor dining the way we are currently experiencing it?” Testa asked his fellow council members at the meeting.

Council member Valerie Arkin said, “If you have to pick a time when they have to stay down, the severe winter months are probably the best, when less outdoor feeding begins.”

“There was never any promise that these would be permanent,” Mayor Brown said in an interview, noting that last summer, the council extended the pop-up program until the end of 2021.

“I certainly am kind to these small business owners. We are just trying to do our best for the health of the city,” Brown said.

But Diesels said going two months or more without Parklet could cut a restaurant’s bottom lines deeply.

“We are living in a different world here. We are living in a world of cash flow and urgency, and the city is living in a bureaucratic environment, and both are not enough,” he said.

“Because when we do this sunset, COVID is raging, no one is sitting inside. We are looking at bankruptcy for many of these businesses.”