Restaurants say parklets taking up San Francisco parking spaces are necessary

Parklets, those outdoor dining options that flourished during the pandemic, are creating tensions in some of San Francisco's commercial corridors. 

Many restaurants say they still need outdoor dining to pay the bills, but some say the parklets are taking up valuable parking spaces.

West Portal is one of those quintessential tucked away districts in the city; centered along bustling West Portal Avenue. But, now some are concerned that the parklets are forcing people to double park or park illegally to visit neighborhood businesses. 

Scott Wheeler has been coming to the Submarine Center sandwich shop since he was a kid and says getting in and out is getting tougher. 

"As far as the parklets are concerned, obviously we need as much space as we can get since this is such a popular space," Wheeler said. "Everybody comes here and there's never anywhere to park."

Some businesses also grumbled about the spaces, but don't want to speak out, worried that it could impact their relationship with their neighbors. 

Many restaurants say the outdoor dining option is critical to their business. 

Spiazzo Ristorante has been a neighborhood fixture for 30 years, and says the outdoor dining option is critical to their bottom line. "It's extremely important," Michelle Salas said. "It's about a third of our restaurant space, so it helps us accommodate all the people that do want to sit outside."

The restaurant said their parklet space is packed on weekends, nights and and holidays, and while they understand the frustration over parking; eliminating the parklets would only hurt small businesses. "There has to be a balance point somewhere along the way," said Salas.

Some neighbors say they see both sides, and finding that balance point can be difficult. "It's kind of a Catch 22," Jutta Baruth said. "Part of it is really nice, when it's a nice day, to be able to sit outside, and yet again it's frustrating because we've lost so many parking spots."

Many businesses, restaurants and non-restaurants pointed out that the recent statewide ban on parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk is also taking away critical parking spaces at a time when parking is already scarce.


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