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FAQ

 

What’s a parklet?

A parklet is a small segment of the right-of-way that has been converted from private automobile parking space to a public space for all to enjoy. Parklets are generally one or two parking spaces long, although they can also stretch for a block or more.



photo by: San Francisco Planning Department
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What’s a streatery?

You can think of a streatery as a mash-up of a parklet and a sidewalk café. For most hours of the day, a streatery is an open space constructed in the parking lane outside a local business (like a parklet). During the hosting restaurant’s or café’s business hours, a streatery provides space for table service and is for the business’ exclusive use (like a sidewalk café). Streateries are a new way to activate Seattle’s parklets and promote the economic vitality of commercial districts. They can provide space for café seating in neighborhoods with narrow sidewalks and support our vibrant café culture.


photo by: Portland Bureau of Transportation
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What’s the purpose of parklets and streateries?

We live in a city with a limited number of neighborhood parks and open spaces: parklets provide valuable privately-funded and privately-maintained public spaces for people to read, sip a cup of coffee or enjoy a bite to eat, and socialize. Parklets convert on-street parking spaces into community gathering places, creating more vibrant commercial districts. Streateries are a new way to support these goals while also responding to the demand for more outdoor café seating in Seattle, particularly in areas where sidewalks are too narrow for sidewalk cafés.


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What are the origins or Seattle’s Parklet Program and Streateries Pilot Program?

Local businesses interested in building parklets began approaching the City in 2011. While receptive to the idea, we lacked a program (or any guidelines and requirements) for parklet development. After discussions with the Mayor, City Council, and several departments, SDOT launched a Pilot Parklet Program in summer 2013. The pilot program began with only three parklet hosts before it was extended through 2014 to explore how well parklets would serve Seattle’s diverse neighborhoods. Following a successful evaluation of the pilot program, we made the Parklet Program permanent in 2015 and launched the Streatery Pilot Program test new activation opportunities for parklets. The streateries will be evaluated throughout this year before a permanent program is considered.


The parklet at Montana Bar on Capitol Hill was the first parklet to open in Seattle. Photo by: Seattle Bike Blog 


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How does SDOT decide where to build parklets and streateries? Does the City impose them on neighborhoods?

SDOT doesn’t build parklets or streateries. If you see a parklet or streatery in Seattle it is there only because a host—a local business, resident, or community organization—applied to construct one in that location. The City might reject an application if the proposed site is inappropriate (due to utilities, for example), if there’s insufficient parking supply in the neighborhood, or if there is a lack of community support. But SDOT never imposes a parklet or streatery on a neighborhood or even suggests a location; parklets and streateries are always community-initiated, neighborhood-driven, privately-funded projects.


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Are parklets open to the public? What about streateries?

Parklets are free and open for everyone to responsibly enjoy 24 hours a day. Streateries are open to the public at all hours outside of café service hours. Each streatery will feature a sign indicating which hours are for business customers and which hours the space is public.


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Are parklets and streateries permanent or temporary?

Parklets and streateries are not permanently affixed to the roadway or sidewalk in any fashion. However, if well-maintained, the parklet or streatery host can apply for annual renewals. SDOT will carefully consider any community feedback when evaluating renewal applications, and may require replacement of elements experiencing routine wear-and-tear. 


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Who pays for a parklet? A streatery?

Private money. Parklet and streatery hosts pay for design, materials, construction, and maintenance costs, as well as review and permit fees (about $1,000 for the first year). Additionally, streatery hosts pay $1.56 per square foot for the streatery each year (the same fee as for a sidewalk café) since the business is making money by using the right-of-way. And a streatery in an area with paid parking also has a fee of $3,000 per space for the recovery of lost parking revenue.


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Can residents and community organizations host parklets and streateries, or just businesses?

Anyone can apply to host a parklet. However, a streatery can only be hosted by a business that is licensed to serve food and/or alcohol, such as a restaurant, bar, or café. We recommend that all parklet hosts consider hiring professional design services to ensure the parklet meets safety, accessibility, and design standards. Hosts also need to consider their ability to maintain their parklet or streatery after it’s installed.

Photo credit: https://sfwiki.org/Deepistan_National_Parklet/_files/dinosaurs.jpg/_info/
Deepistan National Parklet is a San Francisco parklet sponsored by a single homeowner.
The parklet features creative landscaping, including this dinosaur. Photo by: https://sfwiki.org/Deepistan_National_Parklet/_files/dinosaurs.jpg/_info/

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Do parklets and streateries close at night?

Parklets are free to (responsibly!) enjoy 24 hours a day, and streateries are open to the public during non-serving hours.


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Can I drink alcoholic beverages in a parklet? Or in a streatery?

Parklets are public spaces, just like a plaza or a park, so you can’t drink in a parklet. You might be able to drink in a streatery, though. It all depends on the hosting business and whether they have a liquor license to serve alcohol to their customers.


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Can I smoke in a parklet or streatery?

No, out of respect for other users, smoking is prohibited in parklets and streateries.


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Who is responsible for maintaining parklets and streateries?

The parklet or streatery host. The host must not only ensure the parklet or streatery is clean and free of rubbish daily, but must also maintain all materials and elements in shipshape condition. Streatery hosts must also store all serving items when the streatery is open to the public.


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What other cities have launched parklet programs? Does anyone else have streateries?

Although each program is slightly different, cities across North America have launched parklet and/or streatery programs, including New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Portland,  Montreal, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Oakland. New York and Portland call their streateries “street seats” and San Jose calls their “curb cafés,” but the idea is generally the same. Check out our Parklet Gallery page to see the parklets and streateries that have been built in other cities.


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What about parking? How does SDOT ensure there will still be ample parking in neighborhoods served by parklets and streateries?

Balancing uses of the right-of-way is always tricky, and parking supply is a factor we consider when reviewing parklet and streatery applications. We have good parking data for neighborhoods throughout the city, and we will use that to help make decisions.


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Is there a cap on the number of parklets or streateries allowed per block or per neighborhood?

There is no set limit on the number of parklets or streateries that are allowed per block or per neighborhood. However, we give priority to parklets and streateries that are proposed in areas of the city with less open space and/or limited sidewalk space. We also require that hosts demonstrate a strong level of support from their local community. If a neighborhood believes that a certain area has already reached a sufficient density of parklets or streateries, we will carefully consider this when evaluating applications for the area. And in 2015, we will accept a maximum of 15 streatery applications for the pilot program.


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How do I apply for a parklet or streatery?

To apply for a parklet or streatery, you should read through the Parklet Handbook and Streatery Supplement to figure out what you’ll need to consider before submitting your application. Applications to join the Parklet Program are only accepted during application windows, which are open twice a year. Streatery applications will be accepted just once during 2015. The current call for applications for both parklets and streateries closes on Friday, March 20, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. All application materials may be submitted either in person on the 23rd floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Ave) or electronically to parklets@seattle.gov.

Additional questions about the application process can be directed to parklets@seattle.gov.


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I’m a business owner who loves my neighborhood and would really like to provide my community with a parklet or streatery, but the initial costs are kind of intimidating. Do businesses sponsoring parklets tend to see any revenue increases? What about streateries?

While there haven’t been any comprehensive studies yet, individual businesses have reported as much as a 20 percent increase in annual revenue when hosting a parklet. And because streateries have a direct revenue benefit to the hosting business, you are likely to recoup your investment in a short time. San Francisco has conducted a Parklet Impact Study that includes some interesting findings about pedestrian traffic and business activity at three parklet locations. Feel free to contact us for more information. We can point you to new resources or put you in touch with existing parklet or streatery hosts in Seattle and other cities.

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Do parklets and streateries require community support for approval?

Yes. As part of the parklet and streatery application process, potential hosts need to provide at least three letters of community support and submit proof that they have contacted their local neighborhood or business association. One additional letter—four total—is required for streatery applications, and streatery hosts must also submit a petition of support.

There’s also a step in the permitting process when parklet and streatery hosts have to post a public notice of the application in their window and mail a notice to all addresses within 200 feet of the proposed parklet or streatery site. We will consider all public feedback when making a final decision on a parklet or streatery application.


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How does SDOT ensure that parklets and streateries are safe?

Safety is SDOT’s highest priority in reviewing and permitting parklets and streateries. As detailed in the Parklet Handbook and Streatery Supplement, every parklet and streatery is subject to specific design and siting standards to ensure that it will be remain safe for its users and the traveling public. As standard features, every parklet and streatery is required to have wheel stops and flexible delineator posts on its outside edges to increase awareness of the space and prevent parking cars from hitting it. Parklet and streatery applications are also reviewed by SDOT’s Traffic Engineers to ensure that they will not obstruct sightlines or impact safety.

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When can the public comment on a proposed parklet or streatery?

The best time to comment on a proposed parklet or streatery is during its 14-day public comment period, which occurs after a concept design is complete. After a parklet or streatery permit application and concept design is submitted, SDOT will issue a public notice of the application and begin the comment period. Notices will be mailed to all street-level businesses and residents within 200-feet of the proposed parklet or streatery location, posted in the window of the adjacent business, and listed on SDOT's website. Comments may be submitted to SDOT either in writing or via email.


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