Restaurants get a boost as LB City Council allows parklets to stay until end of the year

A+parklet+adjacent+to+Jongewaard%27s+Bake+n+Broil+located+in+Bixby+Knolls.++The+parklet+program+was+set+to+expire+Oct.+31%2C+but+has+since+been+extended+to+the+end+of+this+year.+

A parklet adjacent to Jongewaard's Bake n Broil located in Bixby Knolls. The parklet program was set to expire Oct. 31, but has since been extended to the end of this year.

Residents’ favorite restaurant parklets are here to stay, at least until the end of the year.

At their Tuesday, Sept. 15 meeting, the Long Beach City Council approved an extension of the parklet program, which was set to expire Oct. 31, to the end of this year.

“It’s been a complete lifeline for so many restaurants,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “Our small businesses are hurting, as we all know, and the open streets program has really provided a lift.”

The open-air dining spaces allow restaurants to extend their services into sidewalks, streets and parking lots, allowing them to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions by providing room for social distancing.

The decision also includes a consideration to make the parklets on Pine Avenue from Broadway to 3rd Street a permanent feature of the Downtown area. Any streets currently blocked off will continue to be closed to accommodate parklets until the end of the year.

“It’s a natural evolution of the way that we conduct businesses and support our local businesses,” Councilmember Roberto Uranga said. “I think it’ll be a great opportunity for people to visit downtown.”

The permanent extension may spread up Pine Avenue all the way to 4th Street and 5th Street. Councilmember Mary Zendejas made a friendly amendment to have city staff look into the possibility of such an extension.

Not every district has benefitted from the Neighborhood Open Streets program. According to the city, open streets are “low speed, low volume residential streets where cut-through traffic can be limited to create more outdoor space and encourage physically-distanced walking, biking, and skating.”

So far, there are over 200 parklets in Long Beach, with most clustered around the Downtown and coastal area.

Most parklets are concentrated in the Downtown and coastal area, though some areas in North Long Beach have also been able to benefit from the program. (City of Long Beach )

For a full view of the map click here.

In some areas, the speed of traffic creates safety concerns for parklet creation. Councilmember Al Austin said he’d like to see parklets in the Bixby Knolls business district. He’s currently working with staff to come up with solutions to reduce the speed of traffic in that area.

“It’s very important for our businesses to survive, particularly considering everything that they have endured during this year and this pandemic,” Austin said. “We have work to do in some of our business districts, to get these businesses the support that they need.”

For more information about parklets, residents can visit the City’s Open Streets Initiative webpage.