San Mateo council extends street closures, takes steps toward permanent parklets

in Community/Infrastructure

San Mateo’s pandemic-era parklets have not only been extended, they may become a permanent fixture. On Monday, the San Mateo City Council voted unanimously to extend the city’s temporary street closure program enabling restaurants to operate via outdoor parklets during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same meeting, the council also voted in favor of the city taking steps toward making the city parklets a permanent fixture, potentially charging a fee to businesses using them.

As part of the resolution, the City Council authorized the temporary use of portions of San Mateo’s B Street and Baldwin Ave. for outdoor dining through Sept. 30, 2021 or until the end of the public health emergency, whichever is sooner. The City Council’s most recent prior extension of the temporary closure of these areas was slated to run through March 1, 2021. However, the pandemic’s persistence prompted them to push back this extension to the fall.

Ultimately, the move enables restaurants to offer service to patrons in a safe manner that not only aligns with the state’s COVID-19 guidelines, but also provides them with critical economic relief.

It also is in accordance with Vehicle Code Section 21101(e), which authorizes cities to temporarily close a portion of any street when the closing is necessary for the safety and protection of people who are to use that street during the temporary closure. City Council also directed the city engineer to erect signs at all entrances to the closed streets and provide notice that violators may be cited for a violation of the temporary street closure.

At its meeting, San Mateo City Council further moved to adopt an Emergency Ordinance to extend the moratorium on enforcement of minimum parking space requirements and zoning regulations for commercial uses in private shopping centers in order to accommodate outdoor dining and other outdoor business uses during the pandemic.

According to the City Manager’s Draft Report for the Feb. 1 meeting, many businesses that have made investments in constructing parklets have inquired about keeping them long term. As such, City Council agreed to the City staff recommendations to develop guidelines that permit parklet installations beyond the pandemic.

Staff will continue to evaluate the temporary street closures as a pilot program and will return to City Council at a later date for an in-depth discussion of considerations for a potential permanent or seasonal street closure program, per the Draft Report.

The resolution extending San Mateo’s temporary street closure program took effect immediately upon its adoption by City Council. Watch the Feb. 1 San Mateo City Council Meeting here.

Photo credit: City of San Mateo