A parklet grant program to support restaurants that want to permanently expand their outdoor dining in downtown Pleasanton was recently approved by the Pleasanton City Council.
Businesses that are eligible under the "Downtown Parklet Grant Program" will be reimbursed for expenses incurred related to the design, construction and operation of a parklet. Grant amounts would cover up to 50% of the total cost, not to exceed $10,000.
The city began developing a more formal parklet program for permanent installations last summer. Parklet placement and measurements are specified in the program, along with what types of materials may be used for creating an individualized pop-up that still fits a unified design scheme.
"If we do it right, I think people will like it, but if it looks poor quality and poor design, the public won't appreciate it," Pleasanton City Councilman Jack Balch told the Weekly on Tuesday.
When the council approved the parklet program in December, they also asked staff to prepare a grant program to help businesses with the cost of building a permanent parklet that meets the new program guidelines.
At their Feb. 1 meeting, council members directed staff to look further into assistance for businesses outside the downtown area. Balch said parklets not located in the downtown core "tend to extend more into private parking lots," and that he is not sure about the number of potential parklets outside downtown.
To qualify for the grant program, businesses must be an eating or drinking establishment -- such as a restaurant, bakery, brewery or cafe -- that is physically located in the central commercial district. Businesses must also be in good standing with the city, have an active business license and have an approved parklet by the city.
Retail businesses that sell goods or merchandise will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Corporately owned chain or franchise establishments and home-based businesses or hotels are not eligible for the grant program.
Once a business receives formal approval to install a parklet by the city, they can apply for the grant program through the Economic Development Department. Eligible expenses include umbrellas and other furniture as well as lights, heaters, and architectural and design services.
Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis starting on March 1. Businesses already approved for the downtown parklet program may apply through March 1. The city said the date "was selected to align with the city's interest in supporting the development of parklets to offset impacts from COVID."
The total funds allocated for the grant program are not to exceed $250,000, an amount that staff said "is based on the number of downtown businesses that operated a temporary pop-up and is anticipated to be sufficient for the number of anticipated applications."
Staff said additional program funding will be requested if the number of applicants is greater than expected.
Funding for the grant program comes from the Business Assistance Program, a $3 million special fund that the council approved for providing zero-interest, unsecured, short-term loans to eligible businesses affected by the pandemic. Approximately $1.6 million still remains in the Business Assistance Program, including the $250,000 that staff has recommended allocating for the grant program.
The temporary popups that lined Main Street for almost two years were taken down several weeks ago so city workers can do street cleaning and tree pruning around the area, but permanent parklets should start to return in about a month once they are approved.
A council update on parklet grant support for businesses outside the downtown area is expected in March.