WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) – Outdoor dining has been a hit in downtown Walnut Creek but soon those popular spaces may come at a price.
The city council is leaning toward a fee to allow businesses, such as restaurants, to continue to use parklets.
Outdoor dining parklets have been a pandemic lifeline for restaurants and until now, the parking spots replaced with tables, chairs and tents for al fresco eating have remained without a fee.
The manager of Capullo Cocina Mexicana understands why that might have to change.
“We all know that the city needs money. We all lost during the pandemic and I think it’s very reasonable for them to charge a fee for it,” Yazmin Martinez said.
The numbers are still being crunched but Walnut Creek City Council is reviewing a fee as a way to make up for the money not being generated by the metered parking spaces.
Right now, around 125 parking spaces are being used for parklets free of charge.
That’s more than $800,000-a-year not being collected for downtown beautification projects and the free trolley.
Restaurant owners tell us the fee might force them to reconfigure their outdoor spaces.
“If we can still keep the parklets it’s been a great help throughout the pandemic. We were fortunate enough for them to not charge us during the whole time so if they can find a balance while it’s still affordable, I think we’d go for it,” restaurant manager, Rodel Marquez said.
It’s still unclear what the cost would be for businesses to continue to operate on the street and in parking spaces.
Many business owners say they are willing to pay as long as the fee is reasonable.
“Thanks to the parklets we’ve been able to hire more people. We actually doubled our staff. We’ve been able to serve more people and actually we’ve done pretty well thanks to them,” Martinez said.