Column: Let’s find a balance between parklets and parking
Pages from The Pass of the Oaks
–The charm of summer calls us to dine, shop, recreate and enjoy being together. It has been a year like no other for all of us. Now, there is a sense of pent-up desire to return to normal pleasantries and move ahead with the recovery.
We have not been able to gather freely for too long. Thankfully, summer 2021 will be more relaxed as we all remain diligent. The downtown retail stores and restaurants are ready and welcoming. Many long-term and new businesses have needed to take a stand and pivot, circling around to adjust their daily approach to doing business as the recovery goes on. While the idea of parklets may change for some restaurants, through the most difficult Covid guidelines, they have allowed many restaurants to maintain an acceptable level of accommodating their customers and remain in business.
As we step into Paso’s warm summer and temperate autumn, let’s stand behind our downtown businesses, by shopping and dining, regardless of how you perceive the parking and access issue. Whether or not our residents feel inconvenienced by parking guidelines and access, most of our tourists are city dwellers who are accustomed to walking to their destinations. We are fortunate to have so many visitors attracted to our area to spend their money. They enjoy the amenities offered by our community while supporting our hospitality industry and businesses that are owned and staffed by our neighbors, friends, and families.
There is a wide range of opinions about the parklets regarding the esthetic design, impact on parking, the visual appeal and how the weather and nearby street traffic effects those dining. While tourism is an integral part of our local economy, support from our hometown residents will fill in the spaces in between the daily and seasonal revenue from tourists.
Debbie Thomas, owner of Thomas Hill Organics says “I love the idea of the parklets. They create an area where locals and tourists can relax, enjoy the fresh air, and interact with others. While THO had to forego the parklet tables due to the cleanup from the shade tree, they provide a beautiful, spacious outside patio for pleasant fresh-air dining.
Debbie adds, “Yes, we lose some parking spaces, but we need a better solution for parking. The tradeoff is increased foot traffic and if done correctly, a more appealing sidewalk presence that will draw customers into the restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and retail stores.”
For the past 8 years, co-owners of General Store Paso Robles Joeli Yaguda, Jillian Waters and Erin Stuck and their staff have provided a personal touch to give their patrons, personally and online, the best selection of unique and local, hand-crafted products. Joeli reflects on her business neighbors by observing “With the way Covid and the community response has impacted their businesses, they sustain a positive way to conduct business every day. Many business owners have found new ways of doing things through Covid. Some of those approaches will stick because they make sense.”
“We were so impressed how quickly the City of Paso Robles moved to establish the parklets as an option for our restaurant partners.” Furthermore, she adds, “We were 100% behind whatever it took to help our neighbors hold steady through the pandemic; even to the point of blocking our own storefront so customers had more space to eat. We are an ecosystem. We all need each other with places to eat, shop, enjoy art, try wine…to thrive.”
“Our hope is that we will have more parking available for customers of all businesses downtown, while we still hold on to the charm that the parklets offer. We will try to stay open-minded, listen and most of all, be good neighbors.”
About the columnist
Millie Drum has been involved with the local retail, sales promotion, and media industry for 30 years including corporate store management, owning a business in downtown Paso Robles and volunteering with the Main Street Association and Chamber of Commerce. In 1998, she joined the Country News-Press as a writer and advertising consultant. She continued her interest in journalism with the Paso Robles Magazine for the next 15 years.
Drum is currently a freelance writer/editor as independent owner of Straight For/Word Marketing and Media. Her goal for her column in Paso Robles Daily News is to share uplifting stories about people, places, and events from the past to our present. Her new column will be called Pages from the Pass of the Oaks. Email her here: firstname.lastname@example.org