Parking in Belmont Shore is expected to improve over the next several months as temporary dining parklets are taken down ahead of the end of the city’s program that allowed businesses to extend their footprints into city streets and parking lots to help them endure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are about 56 parking spaces currently being used by temporary parklets, or about 11% of all metered spaces on or adjacent to Second Street, but that figure is expected to decline dramatically, according to city traffic engineer Carl Hickman.

Hickman said that of the 30 businesses currently using parklets along the Second Street corridor, just 10 have inquired about converting them into permanent additions to their business. Another 10 businesses have said they want to keep their temporary structures through the end of the city’s Open Streets program.

“We are in the process of removing them when business owners no longer need them or ask for them to be removed,” Hickman said.

If all 10 of those businesses end up being permitted and pay the tens of thousands of dollars to build a more permanent parklet, it would mean just 20 spaces would be off limits to parking.

That would represent 4% of the available metered parking. Hickman said that the goal is to allocate no more than 7% of parking stalls for parklets on Second Street, which amounts to about 36 spaces or 18 two-stall parklets.

Businesses have until Jan. 31 to indicate if they want to build a permanent parklet, Hickman said. Eight parklets on Second Street have been removed to date.

Not all temporary parklets are eligible to become permanent ones for a variety of reasons, including their placement near drainage elements, conflicts with utility lines and the width of the street left over after the parklet is installed.

Hickman said the standard is for 12 feet to be available for vehicle traffic, though some exemptions have been made for temporary structures.

Public Works officials made clear Tuesday that any permanent structure would likely look much different than the temporary ones that can be found across the city.

“None of the temporary parklets anywhere in the city would qualify as a permanent one,” said Public Works Deputy Director Diko Melkonian.

The city has a 50+ page handbook on the design guidelines for permanent parkelts in the city which covers the kinds of materials they can be made of, features that must be met to ensure the safety of patrons and the kind of insurance that businesses need to carry to cover the parklets.

The issue of parklets has been a point of concern for residents of the neighborhoods near Second Street with noise, parking impacts, the aesthetics of the parklets, and other quality of life issues being cited over the past few months. The concerns followed early praise for the parklets on Second Street in late 2020.

The city held a public meeting and circulated a survey to area residents, business owners and customers and found that about half of the respondents supported the program but lingering concerns could lead to a tailored approach to address problematic parklets in the area.

One of the changes will be to parklets on side streets that branch off of Second Street and are closer to homes. Those parklets will no longer be allowed if they have multiple documented violations of the rules in place for parklet operators.

Other areas of the city, like Pine Avenue and the Atlantic Corridor in Bixby Knolls, previously had outdoor dining parklets but opted to fully reopen those streets earlier this year.

Long Beach extends parklet program through June 2022 but creates protest process for Belmont Shore

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.