Last summer, Los Gatos conducted a controversial one-way pilot program along North Santa Cruz Avenue. Part of the program included the creation of temporary outdoor public spaces called ‘parklets.’ Although the one-way traffic concept was not found to be favorable and will not be continued this summer, the parklet concept is moving forward, with permanent open spacing being created throughout Downtown. These parakeets will bring more open-air options to the Downtown Los Gatos dining scene.
A number of local Los Gatos property/building or business owners have decided to construct parklets, creating welcoming al fresco environments for their patrons that, thanks to the amazing weather in Silicon Valley, can be enjoyed almost year-round. Not surprisingly, all of the new parklets are associated with food establishments.
The first to be completed is at the popular wine bar, Rootstock on North Santa Cruz Avenue with others in progress in front of neighboring businesses Andale and Great Bear Coffee and another at nearby Pizza My Heart. On Main Street, Zona Rosa, Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company, and Centonove will be sharing an expansive parklet, which is still under construction. According to the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, another will be built just off Main across from the park once the new eatery, Nolan Rose, opens in the former La Boulanger location (more on this latest restaurant to come!). Rumor has it that La Pastaria & Market, which recently opened in the former Opa! location on North Santa Cruz, would like to construct a parklet for their clientele but odds are, that will occur in the future.
To build a parklet, the business or property owner must submit a request for participation to the Town. Guidelines require the outdoor space must be adjacent to the applicable property or business and it must be ADA compliant. Though they appear permanent, the foundational elements of these outdoor spaces are not allowed to be attached to the sidewalk or asphalt. Shading is allowable if it is not permanent, and although the preferred parklet size is two parking spaces in length, alternate sizes and configurations will be considered. There are numerous other guidelines outlined in the application.
To date, all of the approved parklets have the same design and future applicants are welcome to adopt the same format or submit a new concept. Once approved and permitting acquired, it is up to the building or business owner to secure a licensed contractor to complete the work. Restaurants must also ensure any additional codes pertaining to serving food and alcohol are met and adhered to and they are also expected to maintain and keep the parklets clean and safe.
The best place to stay informed about these new outdoor gathering places—besides strolling downtown or enjoying a drink or meal seated in one of these al fresco dining areas, is on the Los Gatos Town Facebook Page.