Dining, Shopping Enter New Era

Dennis Evanosky    Shoppers and diners are slowly returning to the Park Street shops and restaurants that opened last Friday.

On May 19, the City Council approved a multi-pronged Commercial Streets Program to streamline the permit approval process for expanding dining and retail to parklets and sidewalks. Last Friday many Alameda businesses and restaurants began reopening. 

Businesses are taking advantage of the program’s repurposing the roadway along core parts of Park and Webster streets. This will greatly increase the area available for outdoor dining and retail. City staff have worked with the Downtown Alameda Business Association (DABA) and the West Alameda Business Association (WABA) to develop this new program to support the health of our businesses and the community. 

The program allows businesses along Park and Webster streets to set up outdoor dining and retail along the sidewalks without applying for permits or submitting plans.  In addition, the business can apply for permission to install parklets using a streamlined and expedited permit process, to use parking spaces for outdoor dining, retail, or other commercial uses. 

Businesses within all other commercial districts may also apply for a streamlined and expedited permit to use the sidewalk for outdoor dining and/or retail along the sidewalk, as well as for a parklet permit to use a parking space for outdoor dining, retail, or other commercial uses.

The city is working with DABA and WABA to reconfigure core areas of Park and Webster streets This includes expanding the sidewalk by converting the existing parking lane into space for outdoor dining and retail. The city and the business associations hope to  create enough space to allow for both a wide and safe passage for people walking and shopping and for businesses to move some of their operations outdoors. The city plans to move parking lanes into the nearest travel lane. This will narrow segments of Park and Webster streets to one lane in each direction. 

The city plans to complete this project along Park Street from Santa Clara to Encinal Avenues in early- to mid-July. A second section, of Park Street and a section of Webster Street will be completed in mid- to late-July. 

Use of Private Parking & Outdoor Space 

As of Tuesday, June 23, pending approval of a Citywide Use Permit by the Planning Board on June 22, all businesses Citywide will be allowed to use their privately owned outdoor (un-enclosed open air) space and parking lots for outdoor dining, retail and commercial uses, with some restrictions, such as maintaining all ADA parking spaces and access. No additional plans or permits are required. The draft parameters for this usage are posted here, and the approved use permit conditions will be posted June 23.

Park & Webster Streets Repurposing
This reconfiguration will be monitored and evaluated, and then modified, as needed, and is expected to remain through early November. All bus stops will remain in place. A community survey will be posted on the Commercial Streets page shortly to gather input on these changes. 

Curbside Pick-up Parking: Businesses that would like to have existing on-street parking converted to curbside pick-up or short-term parking can make this request by completing the form on the Commercial Streets web page. The City will review requests as they are submitted and make these changes, as feasible.

As shopping and outdoor dining increases in Alameda, the City encourages everyone to continue to be vigilant and following the County Health Orders for wearing masks and maintaining at least six feet of physical distancing.

Visit the City of Alameda Facebook page for more information and to access the permit forms and guidance. The page also has more information for Alameda businesses planning to re-open.