Parklets and Beautification
The Place-Branding and Beautification project intends to propose specific design solutions and aesthetic standards for the Monterey Road corridor and the greater downtown district.
The goals for the Place-Branding/Beatification project include:
- Support vision of making Downtown a destination
- Provide space between cars and people
- Create opportunities for programming and activation
- Support business recovery
- Create gathering spaces for community
- Add interest and can create culture and placemaking
In 2018, the city launched a two-year Parklet Pilot Program encouraging the creation of restaurant and retail parklets in the Downtown Corridor. This allowed businesses an opportunity to extend their operations onto the street in the form of a parklet, repurposing on-street parking spaces to create a more activated streetscape for both restaurants and retail operations. The program requires the business to acquire and pay for an encroachment permit and provide insurance, in addition to the costs of building the parklet.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of the City’s Business Recovery Plan, the City of Morgan Hill created an Al Fresco Program, providing businesses the opportunity to operate outdoors; similar to the Parklet program but with less requirements. With the Al Fresco Program, the City provided temporary traffic safety barricades (orange, water-fillable barricades), waived the Encroachment Permit fee, and streamlined the application process. This allowed many businesses to operate during the pandemic while meeting the County’s health safety protocols.
Prior to the pandemic, the City had not received applications for parklets. This could be due to the costs associated with the parklet requirements. However, during the Pandemic, the Parklet and the Al Fresco Programs have been very successful in helping businesses survive while making Downtown an interesting and vibrant district.
Post COVID-19 Business Recovery
The Al Fresco program has ended. City staff intends to develop recommendations for a long-term, sustainable parklet program that will support the business community's continued need and desire for outdoor dining and shopping options, create community space for temporary activations, while implementing consistency in the design and permit standards. This could potentially create new burdens on businesses, some of which are still struggling to operate.
Recognizing that parklets can range in cost from $40,000 to $60,000, it is important to acknowledge that most of the businesses will not be able to afford and fully build out parklets. Therefore, the beautification piece becomes more challenging to implement. Taking a step back, we have repeatedly heard that the Downtown sidewalks and streets seem cluttered. We have also heard the need to support retail businesses and create community space. Given the City’s limited financial resources, the following suggestions should be considered:
AP+I Design Consultants
As part of the direction given by the City Council on May 19, 2021, to move forward with the first step in implementing the lane reduction and associated Place-Branding and Beautification, the City contracted with AP+I to design parklets and an interface between the sidewalk and lane of traffic that improves safety and provides consistency down Monterey Road. AP+I came up with three influences (agricultural, historical, and industrial) that would be appropriate for Morgan Hill.