Main Street instructs businesses to temporarily take down parklets


Katy Clark

The City of Pleasanton is closing down the parklets for now due to maintenance. They also want to allow through traffic to be able to go down Main Street.

Katy Clark and Anaita Mistry

For the last year or so, every Friday to Sunday evening, Pleasanton residents could leisurely stroll down Main Street. Diners could sit outside in unique parklets provided by restaurants and enjoy the ambience as musicians provided live music, and many skateboarded. 

“I loved it when downtown was closed off because you could walk around and a lot more people came so it was nice to see the community. I think it [had] a positive effect because it introduced something new when we were in times of hardship due to COVID-19,” said Milana Mees, a current student at Middle College.

Parklets lined the street as a measure for restaurants with limited indoor capacity due to the pandemic to continue to entertain guests. 

“They have a positive influence especially when it’s warmer. We bring in more people and have a lot more customers,” said a former Oyo employee.

The temporary pop-ups were well received with the public, however there was some outcry amongst adjacent businesses, as well as impacts to traffic. This, along with the temporary nature of this program, pushed the City Council to require that all restaurants take out their parklets. If restaurants want the parklets back, they’ll have to apply for a permanent permit.

“Considering everything that’s going around with COVID-19, people are more leary of sitting inside. Having only three tables outside now makes it a lot harder to accommodate that need. Also it gives us a lot less space to seat guests, so we’re overall just getting less business,” said Emila Bender (‘23), an Oyo employee.

In order to unify the appearances of the parklets and offer a permanent solution the city is offering an option for restaurants to submit their proposals to make sure they follow pre-approved designs. These designs will be ready by April, but business requests for permits can be submitted but aren’t likely to be issued until March 1, according to city staff.

“[In regards to getting a permit to get a parklet space for Oyo] I believe so, we had talked about regaining the parklet space sometime around March,” said Bender.

Many restaurant owners find this new decision to pull out all parklets to be unwarranted and irksome. A few spent a large sum of money building their parklets, and may have to spend much more to adapt them to fit city standards. Some even had their parklets professionally built by private contractors.

“During the summer we had the entire street to play with, but as school started up we had to downsize to the parklets, so around September [we started to use the parklets],” said Bender.

However, the pop-up program was never supposed to be permanent. Their popularity, combined with the fact that they served as a life-line for restaurants, prompted city officials to extend the program through the end of 2021. This new decision is an effort made by the city to create a permanent solution and hopefully the genial ambiance brought on by the parklets in the last year will return soon.