Pismo Beach parklet attracts lots of glances, fewer sit-down visitors

Nearly three weeks after Pismo Beach installed its first parklet downtown, the small park space still gets curious glances as people walk by.

"Oh that's what that is," said a woman as she strolled past the chestnut-toned seating area at noon Friday, stopping to read a sign describing the project and explaining that it’s temporary.

The parklet opened on March 30 as a pilot program by the city to make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly. The Pismo Beach City Council will debate the parklet's value at its meeting May 17, but residents have until then to try out the parklet themselves and offer feedback.

About 20 people walked past the space at the intersection of Hinds Avenue and Cypress Streets and several commented on it during a sunny afternoon on Friday. Yet most didn't stop to sit down.

Between noon and 1 p.m., eight people sat briefly at wood benches in the small space, which also features a checkerboard bar for visitors to play games. It’s surrounded by planters filled with red and orange flowers and palm trees.

Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis said that is roughly the attendance he would expect to see at the downtown gathering space on a weekday during lunch, though he has heard of groups of eight to 10 people relaxing at the parklet at one time.

On a busy day, Lewis said the parklet sees "well over 100 people."

"We've heard of people playing chess and checkers down there, meeting up in groups," he said. "A lot of people are telling us it's a cool, hip and fun place to hang out."

Three weeks ago, the city set up an email address where residents can send comments about the new space — parklet@pismobeach.org. So far, the majority of the comments have been positive, Lewis said.

The email comments will be compiled for the council meeting on May 19, where Lewis said the council will use them to decide whether the parklet should stay in its current location, if it should be removed and if the parklet program should be expanded to other areas of the city.

If the council directs staff to look into a parklet program, Lewis said he would work with the city Parks, Recreation and Beautification Committee and its Parking Advisory Committee to determine where a new parklet could go, as well as what it should look like.

That process will take some time, Lewis said, and most likely there would only be a few parklets in the city at one time.

"We won't have a proliferation of parklets in Pismo any time soon," he said.

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