Transportation Commission Okays Parklet Program’s Continuation

City of Alameda -- If draft recommendations are approved, Park and Webster streets will see parking move back to the curb and green bicycle lanes. Above is Webster Street’s plan.
City of Alameda -- If draft recommendations are approved, Park and Webster streets will see parking move back to the curb and green bicycle lanes. Above is Webster Street’s plan.

Transportation Commission Okays Parklet Program’s Continuation

At its May 24 meeting, the City of Alameda Transportation Commission unanimously endorsed draft recommendations for the Park Street and Webster Street Commercial Corridor Restriping Plan. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Alameda restriped portions of Park Street and Webster Street to re-purpose some sidewalk and roadway space for parklets and outdoor spaces for use by local merchants. The city called the program, the “Commercial Streets Program.” The program changed the four-travel lane roadway into one travel lane in each direction.

In late 2021, staff evaluated the program and then brought recommendations to the council on Nov. 2, 2021, to continue the program for another two years, through Nov. 1 of this year.

City staff and officials want to maintain the parklet program with modifications. At the meeting, City of Alameda Deputy public Works Director Robert spelled out the draft recommendations city staff want implemented for the program after the Nov. 1 deadline. Staff recommendations include:
• Moving the parking lane to the edge of the curb.
• Adding striped bicycle lanes between the parking lane and the travel lane.

“With the restriping moving the parking away from the curb at the time, it wasn’t known how many parklets they were going to be. The city wanted to create space for those parklets,” said Vance. “In many places, now there’s just unused curb space out there. There were also issues with parking compliance because of the unused space.”

City staff believe moving the parking to the curb and highlighting the bicycle lanes will relieve a lot of confusion among motorist driving and parking along Park and Webster streets. The current configuration has caused numerous incidents of double parking on bicycle lanes and tight spaces for people who want to park there.

Members of the Transportation Commission made amendments to city staff’s original draft recommendations. Their amendments included:
• Implementing green thermoplastic paint on bicycle lanes
• Installing intersection boxes with green thermoplastic paint.
• Implementing curb management policies and installing ADA-compliant parking spaces with consideration of loading zones.
• Creating an evaluation plan that includes qualitative and quantitative data including public outreach.

Staff will present the evaluation plan to the commission at its next meeting on June 21. The commission believes the amendments will make it clear to differentiate between a bicycle lane and a parking space.

Merchants on Park and Webster streets must apply for and hold annual encroachment permits for parklets in front of their businesses. All existing conforming and permitted parklets will be protected by decorative concrete barriers provided by the city. Staff also recommended modifying the program to limit the width of a parklet plus the (two-foot wide) barrier to the width of the parking lane adjacent to the curb (typically eight to nine feet). Each travel lane will be 11-foot wide.

Many merchants in the downtown areas believe the parklets enrich the commercial environments on Park and Webster streets.

“The parklets, while a number are used for our restaurants, are not just for these specific businesses,” said Kathy Webber, executive director of Downtown Alameda, who is in favor of continuing the parklet program. “They bring a tremendous amount of vibrancy and vitality to our district.”

However, some residents are not in favor of continuing the program.

“I am opposed to this plan,” said Karen Miller at the meeting. “Please return Park Street and Webster to the pre-COVID configuration. The parklets were an emergency solution when we couldn’t go inside, and it kept businesses afloat. Park Street is a mess both in how it looks and how it functions.”

Currently, there are 19 businesses with parklets in the Park Street Commercial District and three businesses in the Webster Street Commercial District. City staff will conduct outreach efforts to Alameda businesses and residents. They will present the recommendations to City Council sometime this summer.

The two images above, courtesy of the City of Alameda, show sample blocks from the two downtown districts on the Main Island. Top: Webster Street from Taylor Avenue to Santa Clara Avenue. Bottom: Park Street between Encinal Avenue and Alameda Avenue.



Park Street is too narrow for traffic, parklets and bicycle lanes. The parklets are a hodgepodge of temporary construction more in line with a third world country.