Fayetteville council makes parklets a permanent option for local businesses

A parklet outside 21st Amendment and Los Bobos Taqueria / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

A previously temporary change that makes it easier for Fayetteville businesses to expand onto the parking spaces outside their doors is now a permanent part of city law.

City Council members on Tuesday agreed to allow businesses to continue to operate parklets on city-owned parking spaces.

A parklet is defined as a small platform that takes the place of one or more on-street parking spaces to extend the sidewalk and provide new space for seats, tables or other public amenities.

The council last year voted to temporarily to expedite the process to request use of parking spaces in hopes of providing safer options for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, city staff said the adjustment would enable various businesses to explore outdoor seating and to be creative and try new things quickly without remitting fees or waiting for a permit review process. The outdoor areas can be utilized by restaurants, bars, performance venues and any other business or organization that wants to expand outdoor seating.

Tuesday’s action made permanent the streamlined process, but removed an emergency provision that waived the fees for a parklet permit.

Parklets are built, operated and maintained by an adjacent business or organization in an effort to offer new opportunities for people to stop, sit and enjoy the surrounding neighborhood street life.

City staff said parklets can invigorate pedestrian areas with activity, and with proper design and management, can add vitality to the street by encouraging walking, shopping, dining and socializing, which can help boost economic development.

Jerry Davis, general manager for 21st Amendment and Los Bobos Taqueria where a parklet is currently installed, urged the council to continue with the parklet process.

“Not only have we seen an increase in business, we have also seen that this parklet is just a great attraction for Dickson Street itself,” said Davis.

During business hours, Davis said the extra space is welcomed by patrons enjoying drinks as part of the Outdoor Recreation Area program. The parklet also sees use when 21st Amendment is closed, he said, with people often stopping to sit in the space after hours or when visiting a neighboring business.

Businesses in paid parking areas to use up to three parking spaces for a parklet as long as they pay the daily rate for each space, which ranges from $2.50 per space near the downtown square to $5 per space in the Dickson Street entertainment district.

The parking spaces must be directly adjacent to the business and located at least one space away from a corner or another parklet.

The spaces can include dining tables or seating with some type of buffer to protect users from street traffic. Buffers can be as simple as reflective tape, but could also include planters, temporary railings, or other types of edging.

Parklets are permitted where the posted speed limit is 30 mph or less, but city staff said streets with higher speed limits may be considered on a case-by-case basis. They must also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and be situated on streets with a grade of no more than five percent or provide a level surface in order to meet the grade requirement.

In the first year of operation, staff said they’ve received no complaints about the parklets and there have been no accidents involving a parklet.

Tuesday’s action was approved 7-0. Council Member Sloan Scroggin was absent during the meeting.