Long Beach will open "the first active 'parklet' in Southern California" this month at Lola's, a restaurant on Fourth Street's Retro Row, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram. The Lola's parklet is part of a pilot program in the city that allows businesses, like restaurants and cafes, to expand the sidewalk into the street, adding seating and greenery. Vietnamese restaurant Number Nine and East Village cafe Berlin will also add parklets soon. According to the LBPT, the city approached the businesses about participating in the pilot, but the businesses themselves paid for the parklets, which were designed by busy Long Beach architects Studio One Eleven.
The parklets will set on "temporary decks with pedestals that adjust to the height of the street," and the designs will be tailored to each business ("wood siding and glowing fixtures to mirror Berlin's warm, modern decor; horsetail and bamboo for Number Nine; agave plants and bright planters for Lola's"). The parklets will also lead the way for more complete streets overall--eventually the median on Fourth Street will be taken out and bike lanes will be installed on both sides. Red curbs and other parking restrictions have already been removed in favor of regular parking spaces. Michael Bohn, design director and principal at Studio One Eleven, tells the LBPT "the goal is to create more urban streets that aren't just designed for moving and parking cars."
The program in Long Beach, like the recently announced program for Los Angeles, is inspired by similar programs in San Francisco and New York. For those curious about the programming options for parklets, the San Francisco Chronicle recently ran a detailed review of each of its city's parklets. As for the effect of parklets on business, Bohn says "I had talked to a number of owners out there [in San Francisco] and they said their business went up 10 to 15 percent."