Living local, urban design, sustainability, landscape architecture, and places in the East Bay. Design that works where it is.

Why Build a Parklet?

40th St Parklet, Oakland-from streetThey’re called parklets but they’re often more like outdoor café dining areas. These sidewalk extensions are parklets because of their roots. In 2005, the clever folks at ReBar had a plan to take back some of the space reserved for vehicles and turn parking spaces into little parks, or parklets. They can be used for any public use: galleries, bike parking, space to relax, but they are frequently used as café seating.

To take over a couple of parking spaces, most cities require a permit, an annual fee, neighbors’ buy-in, and a decent design. Parklets are privately funded and maintained but they’re public open space and accessible to everyone. You don’t have to buy a cup of coffee to hang out. Parklets are temporary – they exist as long as the host maintains the permit and the city thinks it’s a benefit to the community. As such, parklets are a form of tactical urbanism or urban prototyping. I’ll discuss that movement in a future post.

The remarkable thing about parklets is they are a cost-effective form of placemaking. Everyone wins:

  • The host usually enjoys economic rewards.
  • The city is able to activate streets at little cost.
  • The public benefits from vibrant outdoor spaces.

What more could you ask for? Are parklets popping up in your city? The ones shown here are in my home town: Oakland, California.

3 comments on “Why Build a Parklet?

  1. Jean
    August 9, 2016

    I was trying to understand that bike rack…for bikes to look like hanging art??


    • taglinedesign
      August 10, 2016

      I think that’s part of it – to make the parked bikes a featured element. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Aunt Beulah
    February 5, 2016

    What a marvelous idea, Valerie. We took a trip to the east coast this fall, and I noticed these little, welcoming spaces here and there. They are delightful. I had no idea that what I was seeing was tactical urbanism. I’m so glad I read this post, and I’m looking forward to seeing more on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

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