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Encinitas to charge businesses fees for 'parklets'

Parklets, those outdoor patios placed on top of parking spots on city streets, emerged as a lifeline for restaurants and bars during the pandemic, keeping them afloat. KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen says one North County city is now going to make those businesses pay for the privilege.

Outdoor patios placed on top of parking spots on city streets, also known as parklets, emerged as a lifeline for restaurants and bars during the pandemic, but Encinitas will now begin charging businesses a fee for the public space they use.

The fees take effect on Aug. 1, 2024. Mayor Tony Kranz said the parklets have been popular with diners.

“There have been extensions to the state law that allows it to continue," he said. "And what the city decided recently was to work towards making it permanent. And so we are in that process now. Part of that will involve the restaurants having to pay for the use of the space.”


Encinitas is the third city in the region to impose a parklet fee, following San Diego and Carlsbad. Businesses in Encinitas will pay $2.50 per square foot a month for each parking spot they take up.

The city has 27 outdoor dining parklets, taking up 59 public parking spots.

Culture Brewing Company co-owner John Niedernhofer said he'd rather not have to pay the fee, but understand why it's needed.

"I'm a realist," he said. "If you want something that has value, it should be paid for. And it has value to the city. It has value to businesses.”

A block north, The Cake House dispensary's general manager, Erica Arroyo, said the parklets helped increase sales at her store.


“I definitely think it helps foot traffic," she said. "People are comfortable with the zones that they kind of sit in. They can come and kind of ease their way into the neighborhood.”

The change comes after more than a year of mounting frustration from other businesses over a lack of parking spaces.

A couple of doors down from Culture Brewing, Encinitas Barber Shop owner Raul Villamar said his business is down because of the parklets.

“We don't have any parking, and my customers keep complaining," he said. "I'm 40% to 50% down on weekdays, 50% to 60% down on weekends because nobody wants to come down.”

In March, the city council directed city staff to conduct a study on making parklets permanent. City staff said the result of that study will be ready to be presented to the Council at its August meeting.

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