The temporary parklet permits issued by Caltrans during the early months of the pandemic have expired. Because of this, two of the three parklets in Sebastopol have been dismantled. The city council decided that the third parklet should be allowed to convert from a temporary parklet to a permanent one. Caltrans has agreed that the temporary version may remain in place while the city works out the details of the permanent version.

Unfortunately, the city council was not willing to do the same for the other two locations.

The parklet adjacent to People’s Music suffered from lack of use, particularly after People’s Music closed last year. People’s Music had been inviting musicians to play in the parklet which helped to activate it. Without that, and with the removal of the furnishings it was not utilized.

Musicians at the People’s music parklet

The parklet, really a mini-plaza, in front of Screamin’ Mimi’s is also gone. This was by far the most utilized of the three locations. But because there were neighboring businesses that were not supportive of the parklet, the city council decided not to make this a permanent location. They did however direct city staff to work on getting Caltrans to relinquish the right-of-way which would allow for city control. I believe the idea would then be to convert it from a street to a plaza. But that would remain to be seen, particularly because we have three new city council members as of the last election.

As I’ve discussed on this blog before, downtown Sebastopol suffers from an abundance of car-oriented infrastructure. It has great potential, but the lack of ‘place’ makes it struggle to attract people. The parklets did help in that regard. And now we’re mostly back to the way it was before, with more places for cars and less for people.

Which of these images supports making downtown Sebastopol a place for people?

A social summer evening downtown
More room for cars! Just what we need.
Looks like fun!
Not so much fun anymore.

I’m hoping we can get back on the path of creating more inviting places for people to linger downtown. Without those types of places, downtown will struggle to attract people.