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“That is the power of place: the power to allure, to engage, to entice people to feel welcome, to spend time, to enjoy themselves.� -Charlie Gandy



march 2017 credits: michael bohn, alexandra burkhardt & kirk keller interviewees: luis navarro, kerstin kansteiner, john mclaughlin, charlie gandy & suja lowenthal




PARKLETS? The Long Beach Parklet program was the first of its kind in Southern California. Spearheaded by the City, the program was implemented to create greater incentives for local restaurant owners, retain business in disadvantaged neighborhoods and reinvigorate public spaces.

The pilot program began in 2011 and included three local parklets designed by Studio One Eleven—Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, Berlin Bistro and At Last Café. Since the program’s inception, all three restaurants have experienced tremendous success and the presence of parklets in Long Beach has drastically increased. Parklets are now recognized as simple, cost effective improvements that have significant effects on a restaurant’s sales, as well as the surrounding retail environment and urban fabric of a neighborhood. Since 2011, the City of Long Beach has constructed and permitted 11 parklets through the pilot program. Studio One Eleven’s partnership with the City of Long Beach has helped to initiate a tactical urbanism movement across not only Long Beach, but Southern California. Since then, we’ve studied these parklets’ successes and lessons learned and analyzed the larger economic and urban impact of each in their community. This knowledge has helped us to form effective public-private partnerships and a toolkit to effectively guide future parklet owners through the implementation of, design, permitting and construction processes.





16 36


[pilot program results]

[urban impact]

how it began studio’s involvement the process

lola’s mexican cuisine berlin bistro at last cafe

successes & lessons learned program expansion & challenges ripple effect






“BIG ENOUGH TO MATTER, SMALL ENOUGH TO MOVE.” PILOT PROGRAM HISTORY Inspired by Park(ing) Day, the Long Beach Parklet Program was initiated in 2011 as a tactical urbanism pilot project. Spearheaded by Studio One Eleven in partnership with the City of Long Beach, the program created a simple and cost effective design intervention to improve the economic vitality of local businesses, activate public space, boost street safety and create a sense of community. The project was originally conceptualized to help well-established businesses address their needs for expansion and additional seating. Charlie Gandy— who at the time was Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach—had seen the parklet model in San Francisco and felt it could be an appropriate solution for overcrowded businesses in Long Beach lacking expansion opportunities. Knowing the project would require progressive mindsets, Gandy presented the idea of a parklet to two successful businesses owners—Luis Navarro and Kerstin Kansteiner—whose restaurants, Lola’s Mexican Cuisine and Berlin Bistro, faced this challenge. However, parklets were more than a reaction to a need for seating. As Gandy explains, parklets are about “urbanizing places and creating great neighborhoods.” By converting existing curbside parking into street decks or expanded sidewalks and bulb-outs, parklets offer businesses smarter options. They enable them to stay and grow, while also providing better visibility and creating more places for people rather than vehicles. Aware that changing locations would take local jobs, potential tax revenue and street vibrancy away from these neighborhoods of Long Beach, both Navarro and Kansteiner were intrigued by the idea of a parklet and began to do their own research. 12

STUDIO ONE ELEVEN’S INVOLVEMENT Gandy knew the implementation of parklets was going to require “political will, professional skill and good timing.” If Long Beach wanted to be a different city, than they were going to have to do things a little differently. Therefore, he called upon Studio One Eleven’s professional design expertise to help see the idea through. Long Beach—a city “big enough to matter and small enough to move”—was the perfect platform for the project. The initial pilot program required partnerships between three local businesses—Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, Berlin Bistro and At Last Café—and the City. Studio One Eleven worked with the Department of Public Works so that under the pilot program, parklets would be permitted and approved as extensions of the City’s sidewalk use permit. Having an ally in Public works helped to establish a process with guidelines for future opportunities. Mindful the program was re-imagining the use of public space, Studio One Eleven wanted to help calm any businesses or neighborhood fears concerning loss of parking, lack of safety or use of space. To do so, we worked with each owner and the City to create site specific solutions that identified opportunities for restriping to guarantee no net loss of parking. Such a strategy helped to promote an urban model and ensure affected parties maintain access to the same number of stalls. Additionally, each parklet’s design was tailored to the restaurant’s unique location and needs while helping to create a vibrant public realm and lasting value for the community and City of Long Beach. As architects, landscape architects and urban designers, Studio One Eleven’s skills and expertise have helped to successfully navigate the pilot program. Through our experience, we’ve identified the necessary steps to kick start, design and execute a parklet that prove most beneficial for businesses, the community and public, open space. Please refer to the graphic on page 11 for more information.

PARKLET FLOW CHART PUBLIC WORKS Application for public walkways occupancy permit

















1 3

INITIAL PARKLETS COMPLETED BY STUDIO ONE ELEVEN: 1 Lola’s Mexican Cuisine [2012] 2 Berlin Bistro [2012] 3 At Last Cafe [2014] 14

1 Lola’s Mexican Cuisine

2 Berlin Bistro

3 At Last Cafe 15






E. 4TH


BACKGROUND Originally, chef and owner Luis Navarro was looking to relocate Lola’s Mexican Cuisine from 4th Street Retro Row to a location with more seating. He had been considering other locations—like 2nd Street in Belmont Shore—however, he was soon approached by Kerstin Kansteiner, owner of Berlin Bistro, and Michael Bohn, Senior Principal of Studio One Eleven, who asked if he would be interested in being a part of the Long Beach Parklet Pilot Program. They explained how they saw Retro Row as a destination and ideal location for a parklet in Long Beach. Navarro realized the parklet, a very minimal intervention, would not only alleviate his issue of too little seating, but also cost much less than moving. A parklet quickly became an awesome opportunity of which Navarro wanted to be a part. Lola’s parklet, which was the first in all of Southern California, had an immediate effect on Navarro’s business. Right away, he was required to hire several extra servers and cooks; however, this was only the beginning of the change to come as a result of the parklet. Never did Navarro imagine how significant of an impact the initial media coverage would have on his business. He claims the media attention alone— including local publications like the Long Beach Post and nationwide publications like Sunset Magazine—helped him break even on his investment in less than six months.

He explains his “let’s do it” attitude and willingness to give the parklet a shot helped “put Lola’s on the map” as an operator who is open-minded and progressive.

INITIAL PARKLET CHALLENGES Initially, Navarro faced some resistance from nearby businesses who felt parking was already a challenge along Retro Row and believed a parklet would therefore only make matters worse. While he estimates 30% of the community initially responded negatively, he realized he had to take a chance and “steamroll through the naysayers” knowing 70% of the community was in support. Additionally, a parking study was commissioned along Retro Row as part of the Pilot Program, helping to calm the community’s fears. By the City adjusting striping and rezoning red, yellow and green zones, six extra parking stalls were identified. Therefore, 4th Street would gain two stalls after the construction of Lola’s and nearby Number Nine’s parklets use four. Because the parklet was the first in Southern California, as well as a first in the City of Long Beach, Navarro refers to himself as “the guinea pig.” Being a City initiated and City backed program, he explains the process of planning, permitting and installing a parklet required about a year of going back and forth and involved a learning curve for all.




1 4


KEYNOTES 1 Parklet deck

4 Wheel stop

2 Planter box

5 Metal rail

3 Loose seating

6 Metal curb 19

“THE PARKLET IS THE MAIN DINING EXPERIENCE” QUICK FACTS Lola’s serves lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11:30am-9:30pm with peak crowds occurring from 11:30-2pm and 6-9pm daily. Navarro manages a staff of 32 employees, the majority of who are local and either walk, bike, skate or take public transportation to work. He estimates about a third of his staff drives. Navarro explains “the usual neighborhood crowd” tends to come by foot. However, as a result of the restaurant’s media attention, he still experiences a large portion of nonLong Beach diners who have read about Lola’s in varying publications and come by car. The parking demand also confirms the presence of drivers and non-local patrons along the corridor.

EFFECT ON BUSINESS Navarro explains the benefits of owning and operating a parklet were immediate. While all a part of a “learning process,” by adding roughly 18-20 seats—about one third more seating—he instantaneously experienced a 33% increase in sales. Additionally, with its opening came the immediate need to hire three to four servers and two to three cooks to accommodate the new crowds. In time, Navarro went from roughly 17 employees to the present 32. While the parklet cost roughly $27,000, his return on investment was about four to six months and since then, his business has continued to grow and transform. He believes the parklet, as well as conscious marketing efforts for all his restaurants, have contributed to Lola’s overall growth. Navarro views Lola’s parklet as, “the main dining experience.” The parklet, which he explains, “does its own thing,” is “rolling all day” beginning with the lunch crowd and continuing into happy hour and dinner. While the time customers spend at the parklet varies, he notes the aspect of pet seating is huge. Customers are willing to wait 45 minutes to be seated knowing their dogs are welcome to join. Additionally, the parklet, which accommodates larger crowds and a fun outdoor setting, has also contributed to an increase in group dining. On occasion, groups rent out the parklet for private parties, and of recent, filming opportunities, too. 20




15 NEW


EFFECT ON NEIGHBORHOOD ENVIRONMENT Since the parklet’s opening, Navarro believes foot traffic has increased 100% along Retro Row. He explains every restaurant in the district has their “reach”—meaning the “usuals” typically come with a specific purpose in mind and know which businesses are open and which are not. However, when new customers come to dine, the parklet provides an aspect of intrigue, which he believes grabs visitors off the street, generates business and creates a culture of exploration along 4th Street. In addition to more foot traffic, Navarro believes vehicular traffic has calmed and the presence of cyclists has increased. Overall, he feels a need for increased bike parking, which is particularly felt on Friday nights and throughout the weekend. While new bike racks were recently added outside of Lola’s, Navarro explains they are already always full. The immediate demand is exactly why he feels biking to Retro Row is “quite popular!” Navarro finds the retail and restaurant businesses along Retro Row operate on opposite schedules. While the retailers are busy from 12-6pm, Lola’s is “cranking” along with many other restaurants from 6pm onwards. He knows of one retailer who stays open until 9pm who claims sales are most successful during this time when restaurants are busy with dinner crowds. He hopes that in the future, retail and restaurant schedules will better coincide to increase businesses sales for all.

ADDRESSING ANY CHALLENGES Unfamiliarity with parklets sometimes creates feelings of uncertainty related to safety and surrounding vehicular traffic—particularly in cities with relatively little parklet presence. However, because of the well-established

parklet program in Long Beach, the public’s familiarity with these urban spaces has grown, helping to foster community awareness and knowledge. Navarro feels as a community gets used to the idea of a parklet, comfort builds and tension eases. As a result, it’ s been a long time since someone expressed discomfort while dining at the parklet. In five years of owning a parklet Navarro has faced few challenges with vandalism—rarely needing to address panhandling or tagging. Generally, he feels the space is very well respected because of its residential location and the owners whose ‘eyes are on the street’ act as an around-the-clock “protective umbrella.”

THINKING AHEAD Navarro expresses “lots of good came from taking the chance” on a parklet. He feels maintenance has been easy and naturally, after five years, he’s needed to replace the furniture a couple of times and purchase a new set of umbrellas each year. Despite the parklet’s age, he confirms there’s nothing he’d change. He describes Lola’s as “The OG Parklet” and feels the authentic design gives the space its flavor and energy. He also plans to pursue parklets at his two other restaurants—Lola’s in Bixby Knolls and The Social List on Retro Row. His advice? Having the right team and making sure the parklet is “what the neighborhood wants.” He knows it’s imperative to have the community’s support and without that, inserting a parklet into a neighborhood’s urban fabric can be challenging for a business. However, with time, education and persistence, he believes parklets could be integrated into any community.








E. 4TH



6 3

1 Parklet deck

5 Metal rail

2 Metal parklet curb

6 Wheel stop

3 Wood bench + planter 7 Bike parking 4 Pots

1 4



BACKGROUND After opening Portfolio Coffeehouse—a successful coffee shop on 4th Street’s Retro Row—Kerstin Kansteiner was encouraged to carry her success eastward by opening a second coffeehouse in Downtown Long Beach. Kansteiner was worried Downtown could be a difficult move for a coffee shop like hers. However in time, a neighborhood shift started to occur within this area of 4th Street which featured very noticeable improvements. Soon, the neighborhood provided an environment unlike before. Lyon Art Supplies moved across the street, leaving their old address, 420 E. 4th Street, vacant. While the space was much too big for a coffeehouse, upon forming a partnership to share the space with Fingerprints Music, Kansteiner realized Downtown could be just the right location and Berlin Bistro soon opened. Berlin’s new location at 420 E. 4th Street was a total success. However, within less than a year, Kansteiner found herself in a difficult situation upon trying to expand her dining outdoors. Due to sidewalk restrictions, she was unable to establish the dining area she had intended for in front of her restaurant. Not long after, Charlie Gandy—a consultant acting as Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach—approached her to see if she’d

be interested in installing a parklet at Berlin as a traffic calming measure to aid in the creation of a bike friendly business district. While excited by the idea, she was initially hesitant of the investment after being open only a year. However, Kansteiner later went home to Germany and noticed the prominence of parklets in European dining. Upon recognizing they had become a European standard, she saw that a parklet at Berlin could be a great opportunity for her business and the neighborhood. She knew a parklet would allow her to create an outdoor dining environment while also contributing to the character of the neighborhood. Kansteiner explains the parklet had an immediate impact that “changed her business overnight.” The parklet finished construction Thursday night and by 8am Friday morning, she received a call asking her to come in right away and assist with the massive influx of customers at the coffeehouse. Since then, “her entire business model changed.” Berlin underwent a huge shift from being a ‘grab and go’ coffeehouse to a full-service, sit-down restaurant serving three meals a day.







“THE PARKLET IS THE BEST SIGNAGE... MY BUSINESS CHANGED OVERNIGHT.” INITIAL PARKLET CHALLENGES Initially, the idea of a parklet at Berlin raised a few questions amongst the community. However, any community doubt regarding the loss of parking stalls was quickly annulled by the parking study commissioned by the City as part of the Long Beach Parklet Pilot Program.

QUICK FACTS Berlin is open seven days a week (Monday-Friday from 6:30am-9pm and Saturday-Sunday 7am-9pm); however peak hours are typically 8-10am and 12-2pm daily. Kansteiner leads a rather large staff of 47 part and full-time employees including baristas, servers and kitchen staff. Due to the high parking demand, as well as the 8-15 employees typically working per day, few employees chose to drive. Many use alternative means of transportation—particularly biking—which has increased the need for employee-specific bike parking. Kansteiner feels a large portion of her patrons are locally based, many of who walk from the central Downtown area. While the morning crowd who are often returning customers are typically “grab n’ go” in nature, come lunch, more customers walk to Berlin, particularly from Downtown and Molina Healthcare.




EFFECT ON BUSINESS Since opening the parklet, which doubled seating from 24 to about 48-50 people, the effect has been tremendous not just for business, but also the neighborhood and customer experience. Excluding furnishings, the construction cost for Berlin was $24,000 and while Kansteiner sees this as “costly,” she feels the return on investment—about four months—was very quick. After opening, sales increased “at least 30%” and since then, have responded well to what she sees as a changes in the community and “shifting culture.” For example, as the Downtown core evolves, the demand for dinner is increasing, which she feels will soon play a larger role in her business. After the parklet opened, Kansteiner needed to hire several additional employees to serve the influx of customers. Originally, Berlin had no servers, however due to the change in business model, the restaurant went from needing no servers to a minimum of four per day during the week or seven per day on the weekends. Additionally, she needed to hire an array of kitchen staff including a sous chef, prep cook and dishwasher to ensure three to four employees were in the kitchen at all times, compared to the one to two employees needed before the parklet opened. All of these hires were local and thankfully, the positions are still needed as the restaurant continues to grow and progress. Kansteiner feels parklets are “the best signage” a business can have. Its “show and tell” presence is a visual cue that speaks for itself and draws people in—so much so that she feels signage could even be removed. Since its opening, she has noticed an increase in group dining at the parklet, which lends itself to larger parties than inside the coffeehouse. However, Kansteiner explains that whether patrons chose to sit inside or outside is weather, time and customer dependent. For instance, customers there for a morning meeting often prefer to sit inside to access the outlets located underneath the tables. Oppositely, the weekend brunch crowd prefers to sit outside and enjoy the sun.

surrounding local businesses. Because Berlin shares a space with Fingerprints Music, customers frequently meander through the music store while waiting to be seated. Local businesses also provide Kansteiner with business cards if customers are waiting to be seated. By supporting other businesses and encouraging people to explore the neighborhood, Berlin and its growing crowds have aided in forming a destination district in Long Beach and helping to develop a dialogue amongst businesses.

ADDRESSING ANY CHALLENGES Kansteiner believes Berlin’s design feels very secure to customers. She considers drivers on 4th Street to be a non-issue and explains guests have mentioned on many occasion how safe they feel dining—a huge component of which is the layout of her seating. Since it is perpendicular to the street, guests either face the building or street and traffic remains in one’s periphery. Oppositely, when seating is parallel to traffic, guests are forced to look at oncoming traffic, making them more aware of their surroundings throughout the entire dining experience.

EFFECT ON NEIGHBORHOOD ENVIRONMENT Since the parklet opened, it has heightened restaurant visibility, generated more foot traffic and helped draw in more customers while creating a greater sense of safety in the neighborhood. The result has been an increase in bikes and therefore highly demanded bike parking. However, with more customers came a need for more employees, many of who ride to work, often limiting public bike parking outside the restaurant. Kansteiner is in the midst of working with Fingerprints to create an employee specific bike storage closet to ensure all parties are provided sufficient bike parking. Unfortunately, because Berlin’s parklet was not completed in conjunction with crosswalk improvements to 4th Street, Kansteiner does not feel the parklet has not been as effective a traffic calming measure as it could be. She believes pairing the parklet with an improvement as simple as a painted crosswalk—or even more substantial like a bulb-out—would be greatly beneficial in reducing the traffic speeds on 4th Street.

With any urban environment comes occasional, yet minor, challenges. Berlin is situated in a retail district of Downtown Long Beach and is surrounded mostly by businesses and restaurants, therefore resulting in less residential density. Since parklets are sensitive to location, the proximity to Downtown results in the presence of homeless or mentally unstable people on occasion near businesses. Agencies like Mental Health America are working with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across the city to provide training about best practices when faced with these situations.

THINKING AHEAD When asked if parklet maintenance is difficult, Kansteiner replies very optimistically, “It is what it is!” She was aware that proper maintenance would be a factor from the beginning and explains cleaning is easy because of the parklet being modular, which allows staff to move the parklet components as they hose down. She adds incorporating a concrete paver for the base into the design was advantageous instead of a wood material due to its durability. Her main advice to future parklet owners: Be sure to incorporate a street facing wall to give people a strong sense of security and stability. “It’s helpful to have that rigidity” she explains, as well as restaurant facing seating to ensure patrons feel safe and at ease throughout their entire dining experience.

Not only does the parklet generate more foot traffic, cyclists and urban activity, but it also brings attention to 27








BACKGROUND John McLaughlin, a highly acclaimed Southern California chef, originally planned to open a restaurant in the Lakewood Village neighborhood of Long Beach. However, the rents, which were too expensive, led him south to Alamitos Beach where he found a small space just off the corner of 2nd Street and Orange Avenue. After opening At Last Café, the restaurant was featured in 2010 on Food Network’s “Diners, Driveins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. Such media attention helped put At Last Café on the map as a premiere food destination in Long Beach, drawing in large crowds and creating a need for more seating. In time, the business next door closed and McLaughlin was able to expand his restaurant to create one larger space occupying the main corner of 2nd and Orange. Despite his expansion, however, there was still a constant need for more seats. Therefore, when Suja Lowenthal and Gary DeLong approached him about opening a parklet at his restaurant, he was excited about the potential increase in seating and business. McLaughlin has always been a huge proponent of outdoor dining—particularly in Southern California where the weather lends itself to such a setting. Therefore, the parklet fulfilled many of his desires as a restaurant owner.

INITIAL PARKLET CHALLENGES McLaughlin expressed little to no challenges during the planning of his parklet. While there was a bit of community fear regarding the loss of parking, ultimately, the City helped restripe parking on the street allowing them to gain one stall. QUICK FACTS At Last Café serves lunch and dinner five days a week—Tuesday to Wednesday from 11am to 8pm and Thursday to Saturday from 11am to 9pm— with their busiest day being Saturday. McLaughlin leads a staff of 18 part and full time employees, all of who live locally—a requirement of his when hiring. Therefore, most walk, bike or take public transportation to and from the café. McLaughlin believes his patrons come from all over. The restaurant’s appearance on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives draws a significant amount of out-of-town visitors who are eager to dine at the restaurant while passing through Long Beach. However, naturally there is a large population of local diners, too. As a result, guests arrive using varying modes of transport. Often, he “wonders where all the cars are parked.”

PLAN DIAGRAM [670 SF] KEYNOTES 1 Bulb-out street dining

5 Bioswale

2 Sidewalk dining

6 Crate mural

3 Wood bench + planter

7 Bike parking

4 Deck

4 3 1


7 2 5




EFFECT ON BUSINESS Since opening the parklet in 2014, McLaughlin believes the combination of great food and a welcoming outdoor dining environment has successfully drawn in customers. Since then, his sales have increased 10%, with the busiest months being January-May. He estimates his return on his $30,000+ investment took less than a year, excluding additional furnishings and upkeep. As a result of the success, McLaughlin needed to hire four additional employees—all of who were local—including a manager, chef and two servers. Since then, he has maintained a need for these positions explaining, “[he] can’t risk being overwhelmed.” The café’s corner location provides a unique opportunity for two applications. The feature bulb-out fronts Orange Avenue while the secondary, standard-sized sidewalk dining is on 2nd Street. McLaughlin explains people primarily choose to sit along Orange, however either way, outdoor seating fills before indoor does and generally, its utilization is fairly consistent throughout the day. Even in the evenings, when temperatures are cooler, guests are not deterred from sitting at the parklet because of the heaters he’s added throughout the space. Additionally, he’s found groups are more inclined to sit at the parklet than indoors as it can accommodate larger parties. Similar to other restaurant owners, McLaughlin agrees his parklets are more important visual cues than his signage. The parklets, and colorful umbrellas, command attention standing prominently on the corner in a residential community. He frequently uses the wall of his parklet along Orange for banners through which he communicates to the public changes in hours, upcoming events or similar notifications. Luckily, the parklet opening also coincided with his landowner repainting the building exterior, which helped to provide better visibility and an enhanced look overall. 32






EFFECT ON NEIGHBORHOOD ENVIRONMENT One of McLaughlin’s favorite aspects of the parklet is seeing how well it fosters neighborhood interaction as a result of a “definite increase” in foot traffic. As people walk along the sidewalk, patrons are able to engage with friends, family and community. The parklet as a platform for social engagement is “cool” McLaughlin says and as the owner, it excites him that his business is capable of taking on this role for the neighborhood. Additionally, he “absolutely sees At Last as the anchor business for the block” and as a result, believes the increase in foot traffic has helped other businesses nearby. Since the parklet was completed, McLaughlin feels the traffic speeds have been consistently calm— about 20mph—throughout the neighborhood. A huge factor in this were the new stop signs added. Before the parklets, stop signs only directed traffic flowing east and west along 2nd Street. However, with the opening of the parklets McLaughlin requested the City include stop signs on 2nd Street to direct traffic flowing north and south, as well. Right away, he was granted a four-way stop sign by the City who assisted not only with this, but also with funding the bulb-out infrastructure. The noticeable traffic calming improvements were critical to the success of this intersection. McLaughlin explains the parklet creates a definite need for increased bike parking—part of which is attributed to two city bike racks that were never replaced after construction. Currently, the one which sits outside of the restaurant is always full, hence why McLaughlin would love to add more.

ADDRESSING ANY CHALLENGES McLaughlin explains he’s had no issues with guests feeling unsafe while dining at the parklet. In fact, before the barrier was constructed, he placed temporary seating on the parklet platform during which time patrons were comfortable dining there. He attributes much of this comfort to the calm driving speeds witnessed throughout the neighborhood. In addition, McLaughlin rarely has issues with vandalism; however, when he infrequently has, the City immediately cleans the parklet free of charge. Occasionally, he arrives at the restaurants in the morning to find homeless people sleeping near the parklet; however, all that is required is asking them to leave. THINKING AHEAD McLaughlin explains he is, “very happy” with the design and outcome of his parklet. He’s had no maintenance issues and everything in place is original. Being a huge advocate of outdoor dining, if ever opening a second restaurant, he would love to include a parklet and highly recommends it to others. He suggests investing in durable, rust proof furniture, like metal tables and chairs, and potentially a barrier of sorts to close off the entry to the public during non-business hours.











WHAT ARE THE SUCCESSES AND LESSONS LEARNED FROM THESE PARKLETS? With any pilot project, there are successes and lessons learned—an opportunity to expand upon past experience and progress proven design concepts to create better built spaces. During a pilot phase, process and approach are subject to and should change to best fulfill the client’s and community’s needs. By using the information collected through this study—particularly that which was gathered during post-occupancy interviews—we can reflect upon areas of success and potential for improvement. Below are a few of our key takeaways.



• Increase restaurant sales and create local jobs by improving business awareness and providing outdoor dining with more seating

• Orient seating perpendicular to street so diners face either the restaurant or opposite sidewalk; therefore, oncoming vehicular traffic remains in one’s periphery

• Boost neighborhood vibrancy and raise awareness of alternate uses for public space that provide greater urban, economic and community benefits

• “No Net Loss” Strategy—during planning, ensure the street can accommodate restriping (as a parklet will occupy approximately two existing stalls) to prevent any net loss of parking

• Increase visibility and foot traffic while helping to spur business opportunity and economic development in local neighborhoods instead of losing business to another community • Provides a platform for neighborhood interaction and community gathering • Implementation of a pilot program helped form unique, public-private partnerships to successfully execute the project

• Secure entrance during non-business hours • Consider alternative shading solutions to umbrellas, like operable panels or structures, that potentially span the width of the sidewalk and parklet • Integrate better lighting into the design—particularly the path of travel to and from the parklet and within the space itself— in the evenings

• Through private investment, the City receives increased sales tax and permit revenue

• Ensure durable materials are specified, like metal furniture or a concrete paver, which allow for easy maintenance

• Pair with appropriate street improvements, like crosswalks and bulb-outs, to effectively calm traffic

• Provide more bike racks upon completion to fulfill proven need to increase bike parking • Parklets are contextual—what works in one neighborhood may not work in another and it is critical to respond to the desires of the public 39

HOW CAN PARKLETS EXPAND ACROSS LONG BEACH? Studio One Eleven has continued our design efforts helping to both complete and conceptualize several parklets and adjoining streetscape improvements across the City. As urbanists, we know the most effective parklets are those that create more permanent spaces and places—integrating additional traffic calming measures, like bulb-outs and landscaping, into a neighborhood’s urban fabric. Therefore, as the City’s parklet program continues to expand, our approach as designers must evolve with it. When the pilot program began, parklets were part of a public-private partnership between the City and small business owners. Now, however, parklets are being tested under various models. From exploring parklets for public use on private streets, to publicly owned and operated by government entities, to multi-entity ownership and tenancy, moving forward a permanent, non-pilot program must respond to and accommodate these various conditions. In the meantime, we can approach streetscape design to allow for amenities such as parklets and streetscape improvement growth. For example, in conjunction with our work at City Place, we’ve created a plan for Third St. from Pine Ave. to Long Beach Blvd. that accommodates four parklets and six bulb-outs. By designing streets pro-actively with these improvements in mind, integrating these spaces into the urban fabric of Long Beach will be increasingly easier with time. 40






2 1


PARKLETS COMPLETED BY STUDIO ONE ELEVEN: 1 Lola’s Mexican Cuisine [2012] 2 Berlin Bistro [2012] 3 At Last Cafe [2014]

6 3 1

4 3



1 Eat Here Parklet

1 Social List

2 25 mph Parklet

2 Robert Earl’s BBQ

3 Olive’s Gourmet Grocer 4 Number Nine 5 Lola’s Bixby Knolls 6 Lola’s “Refresh” 41

WHAT IS THE RIPPLE EFFECT? Since the inception of the Pilot Parklet Program in Long Beach, more and more cities throughout Southern California have expressed interest in implementing a pilot program of their own. One example is the City of Carlsbad, where Studio One Eleven was fortunate enough to work with Garcia’s Mexican Cuisine to test the City and North San Diego County’s first parklet, or as locals refer to them, street cafés, which has since been a tremendous success. While parklets continue to emerge across the region, some cities have not been as successful with pilot programs. As we’ve learned—even within the City of Long Beach— parklets are contextual. The needs of each community vary greatly and as a result, how one neighborhood responds to a parklet can be quite different than another. Additionally, each parklet must respond to the unique conditions of the


street and its businesses and it is imperative the design is reflective of these differences. By simply giving the public better access to one of our city’s most prominent public spaces—the street—parklets have proven the ability to transform districts, calm traffic, retain business and generate economic growth. Although they must be treated on a case by case basis, there is no doubting parklets are here to stay. Their tremendous success across all of California—from the Bay, to the Central Coast and of course, Southern parts of the state—is a testament to their adaptability as low cost, high impact spaces. From business awareness to increased sales, our investigation has certainly confirmed the quantifiable benefits of parklets. As awareness grows and pilot programs transform into fully implemented City planning and permitting processes, parklets prove extreme potential for even greater influence and impact across Long Beach, Southern California and beyond.

Garcia’s Mexican Cuisine


WANT TO LEARN MORE? Below are a list of resources to explore. Public and Private Parklet Initiatives: City of Long Beach: • • City of Los Angeles •

City of San Francisco: • •

Parking Day • •

Research Efforts: UCLA • • USC • 43

WHICH PARKLETS DID NOT MAKE IT? Originally, two proposed parklets were not approved in the south east portion of Long Beach due to community opposition. One was located in Naples and the other in Belmont Shore—two affluent, parking impacted neighborhoods with many dining establishments. Concerns were not regarding the proposed parklets, but rather the fear of lost parking if the majority of restaurants implemented them. One solution was to approve a finite amount that would be available on a first come, first serve basis; however, the local Business Improvement Association was unable to determine which restaurants would receive them. Additionally, Luis Navarro—owner of Lola’s on 4th Street— hoped to add a parklet his second Lola’s location in Bixby Knolls. However, the community, which was much less familiar with parklets than Downtown businesses are, has continued to express concern with the addition of a parklet. While Luis and his team are experienced with the process of conceptualizing, constructing and implementing a parklet as part of their business, the struggle in Bixby Knolls is a reflection of the community’s discomfort and surrounding businesses’ uncertainty.


SUJA LOWENTHAL October 21, 2016 American Planning Association Dear Award Selection Committee: I am writing to you today to share with you my experience working with Studio One Eleven collaborating on my place-making projects in the City of Long Beach. I served as a City Councilmember and Vice-Mayor of the City over a ten-year period until July 2016. In this decade, Studio One Eleven and I have worked closely to improve the public landscape and create public space opportunities, that at times were precedent-setting. One example of a precedent-setting project designed by Studio One Eleven is a parklet under the Long Beach Parklet Pilot Program, built as outdoor-dining space for At Last CafÊ. This was the first parklet to ever to be built in Council District 2. The parklets under the Long Beach Pilot Program added great value to the surrounding neighborhoods by helping to retain jobs and businesses that would have otherwise been relocated. Studio One Eleven worked with the City of Long Beach to provide an innovative solution in the form of curbside parklets to create room for businesses to expand and provide greater tax revenues to the City while retaining - and in the case of the At Last cafe, increasing - the number of local jobs within the community. The parklets have been designed with great attention to detail to ensure that users feel sheltered and safe from the traffic on the street, and to transmit the unique characteristics of its corresponding restaurant. The parklet design for At Last cafe also included a bioswale to capture the first inch of rainfall and reduce storm water pollution, which provided multiple benefits for a relatively small investment. These parklets have become a part of the street life in Long Beach and continue to inspire the creation of more such initiatives through the Parklet Program. They have been instrumental in revitalizing traditional retail corridors in Long Beach and creating a sense of place and ownership, particularly in neighborhoods that are economically disadvantaged. I am so very honored to have had the opportunity to work with Studio One Eleven during my tenure on the Long Beach City Council. Their creativity, design standard, regard for historic preservation, neighborhood and business corridor revitalization, and authentic commitment to our community have created a sense of place and belonging in my home city. This has always mattered to me. It matters to me even more as I return to civic life with my young son as one of the many residents who enjoys and draws value from Studio One Eleven’s work. Thank you for your consideration. Warmly,

811 Orizaba Avenue | Long Beach | CA 90804 e-mail | mobile | 562.714.6481 45

Long Beach Parklet Study  

Inspired by Park(ing) Day, the Long Beach Parklet Program began in 2011 as a tactical urbanism pilot project deployed by Studio One Eleven i...

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