Mike Walker is a Senior Planner with the City of Napa. He and his husband moved to Napa in 2015 when he accepted his job with the City.
The Economic Development team sat down with Mike Walker, Senior Planner with the City of Napa, to discuss how the City started implementing parklets into their local businesses.
How did parklets come to Napa?
In 2019, I’d just returned from a trip to Canada where I first saw parklets in action. I shared the idea with our Economic Development manager at the time, and it turns out she was thinking about the same thing! We started researching and compiling pictures and examples of how other cities were doing this. Then, COVID hit, and it became clear that parklets could help our community. The Local Emergency Order allowed us to implement this program outside of the usual regulatory process that is required.
With the City’s willingness to launch a temporary program based on an emergency order, we were able to establish an expedited review and waive all the fees. Now that the emergency order is tentatively set to expire, we are working on making the parklet program permanent. We are considering items like safety, aesthetics, and an appropriate fee structure that will allow our parklet operators to continue using these City parking spaces and keep their outdoor dining spaces. We are also designing the standards to be flexible enough to encourage innovation and personalization.
What is the future of parklets in Napa?
Current parklet operators will need to make a submittal so we can review their existing parklet against the updated standards and help them make any necessary changes. New operators who want to propose a parklet can also apply. Our goal is to have all of this out there by the end of November. It will be on our website, our social media, newsletters, and all of our parklet operators will be contacted directly.
This parklet program has been a unique opportunity for us to step outside the box and really try to help the community and create a sense of place!
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