Santa Monica Outdoors Parklet Program takes effect October 1, 2022
By Ashley Sloan
Recently Santa Monica City Council approved permanent parklets for outdoor dining and retail.
During the pandemic, Santa Monica City Council agreed to a temporary program for local businesses to convert parking spaces into outdoor areas. As a result, over 90 businesses in Santa Monica participated and members of the community overwhelmingly expressed their support. More than 80% of the feedback from residents and visitors were extremely positive about the outdoor areas, conveying they were more likely to go somewhere with the parklets.
The new program, approved by Santa Monica City Council June 29, will allow restaurants to permanently keep the extended area and welcome in expanded space. Beginning on October 1st, 2022, the Permanent Parklet Program will charge a $2.12 monthly fee per square foot to cover the cost of maintenance, inspectors, and customer service. In addition, businesses participating will be limited to two parking spaces and must follow new standards by January 1st, 2023. Businesses that want a parklet or already have a permit will need to reapply before September 15th, 2022.
Local business, Lula Cocina Mexicana, is happy about the new parklet program. General Manager Chuck Craig stated it is a “win win” and “A great program for the city.” Currently, their restaurant takes up three spaces across the business-front. Although they will need to work out a few obstacles, Craig expressed, it is worth it.
However, there is still a lot of uncertainty with businesses that expanded to outdoor space. Aside from parklets, businesses with parking variances and individual arrangements for private outdoor spaces that are left with uncertainty.
O’Brien’s Irish Pub owner Willy conveyed his frustration with the uncertainty. He expressed that the outdoor seating is a great addition and has welcomed a new influx of customers. Although he would like to upgrade the outdoor amenities to make it nicer, he does not want to make the investment if the program goes away in the future. Santa Monica City Council staff is working to review requests from local businesses for long term use of private outdoor dining.