Walnut Creek officials are considering whether to keep outdoor dining parklets a permanent fixture of the city after extending the city’s outdoor dining program through the end of the year.
The Walnut Creek City Council unanimously approved the extension of the Walnut Creek Rebound program last week, enabling restaurants to maintain their outdoor dining spaces in areas like erstwhile street parking spaces.
Rebound also created curbside pickup zones near restaurants and retail businesses and closed a handful of streets downtown as restaurants expanded their footprints to accommodate outdoor dining during the pandemic.
According to Mayor Kevin Wilk, a survey of some 1,400 Walnut Creek residents found that 82 percent wanted to make the outdoor dining spaces permanent.
“It’s thoroughly obvious to this council that people like this,” Wilk said last week.
The city launched the Rebound program in June 2020 in coordination with local groups like the Downtown Business Association and the city’s Chamber of Commerce at a time when the state had temporarily banned indoor dining during the pandemic’s early months.
While city officials have acknowledged a modest loss of revenue while the parking spaces are going unused by vehicles, they’ve argued widely available garage parking and the potential loss of local businesses, as well as their tax revenue, was worth the risk.
Walnut Creek city officials are also currently conducting outreach to determine which elements of Rebound to keep in 2022 and beyond, particularly in the city’s bustling downtown.
Business owners are encouraged to contact the city at email@example.com to give feedback about the future of outdoor dining and business operations.
“I appreciate the fact that we’re able to help restaurants recover from this pandemic and this disastrous economic collapse that happened over last year and help them a little bit further,” Wilk said.