Bellingham's first public parklet. City of Bellingham photo.
The city is considering adding a new form of public spaces to its game: public parklets, which are being increasingly adopted by larger cities around the world following the lead of San Francisco as inexpensive enhancements.
City Parks Director Gary Robinson unveiled his plan at this week’s City Council meeting. He proposed the city build one or two mobile public parklets which could be moved from month-to-month around the downtown area.
Robinson said they could “encourage the public to hangout in downtown Anacortes.” His proposal is for modular platforms that could be easily moved. He suggested the city could ask a business to pay, perhaps, a $100 fee to have a parklet in front of its business.
The world's first formal public parklets were initially conceived and installed in San Francisco in 2010. As of earlier this year, 38 public parklets had been installed there.
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A parklet repurposes part of the street into a space for people. Parklets are intended as enhancements to the streetscape, providing an economical solution to the need for increased public open space. They provide amenities like seating, planting, bike parking, and art.
Council member Eric Johnson said he liked the idea until he heard they would take away one or two parking spaces. Council member Liz Lovelett suggested other areas need beautification, too. “Seems like a whole lot of beautification needs to be done at the other end of Commercial,” referring to the south end of the street.
The Anacortes program would be a bit different than San Francisco’s, where the parkers are built by private money and go through a city permit process which includes a public comment period.. A public parklet can cost from about $7,000 to as much as $35,000. In San Francisco, parklet permits are for one year and are renewable.
Bellingham got its first public parklet located adjacent to La Fiamma Pizza on Railroad Avenue in August 2012. It was made possible through a partnership with Sustainable Connections and local businesses. It has since been moved to another location. Like San Francisco, the city doesn’t build or pay to build a parklet. One original parklet went up for sale a year ago at $3,750.