Do You Think 'Parklets' Would be Embraced in Mill Valley?

In Fairfax, town officials are looking into turning a parallel parking space into a public space with seating and giving it a temporary try for six months to a year. Do you like the concept of a parklet for Mill Valley?

Fairfax officials are looking into experimenting with a parklet, a small urban park in the space of a parallel parking spot in the downtown area.

Would that be welcomed in Mill Valley?

Parklets, which are becoming increasingly common in San Francisco and other cities, include seating and sometimes planter-box vegetation, bicycle parking or tables.

“Parklets take a parking space and make public space,” Jim Moore, Fairfax Director of Planning, told the Fairfax Town Council at its Nov. 7 meeting. 

Town officials will work with Fairfax business to determine the exact placement of the parklet and to see if any want to sponsor it or help with the design or implementation.

“We are hoping to get a collaborative relationship from sponsors and to reach out to businesses so there are no feathers ruffled,” Moore said.

Mill Valley is currently examining the parking culture downtown. On Throckmorton around the Depot Plaza, the city recently installed 30 new parking meters that take credit cards as part of a three-month pilot program.

A recently formed ad hoc committee will use the data collected from the meters to review downtown parking as a whole. Mill Valley has a total of 396 parking meters downtown.

Mill Valley Police Lt. Ken Dunkel said the idea of a parklet hasn't come up so far, but he wouldn't rule it out. The committee is exploring different technologies for meters, and reviewing both metered and unmetered spaces. Everything is on the table right now, he said.

"We're trying to start from scratch and see what's best for the balance of citizens, businesses and visitors," Dunkel said. "I think all options are open."


According to the San Francisco Pavement to Parks parklet permit in the attached staff report, parklets are “intended to provide space for people to sit and relax and enjoy the city around them, especially where narrow sidewalks would otherwise preclude such activities. They are intended to be seen as a piece of street furniture, providing aesthetic enhancement to the overall streetscape.”

Some cities that have experimented with parklets have said they attract more foot traffic, leading to a boost in commerce.

Do you like the idea of a parklet in Mill Valley? Where you put one? Let us know in the comments.

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Rachelle Sarosi November 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM
We dont need to be spending tax dollars on a parklet we have plenty if parks and beautiful seating downtown, the depot area is a huge parklet isnt that enough ..................
Kristen Garneau November 19, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I agree with the comment above about areas around the depot plaza. It's already as good as it gets. However, some places along Miller (where the sidewalk narrows) and are frequented by folks might actually add to the charm. Like in front of Swirl Yogurt place.
Matt Bianco November 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Why don't we clear all those big trees in Old Mill Park and pave parking spaces there? I can never find anywhere to park around downtown unless I park at least one minute walking distance away from my coffee shop of choice.
Marilyn B November 19, 2012 at 04:29 PM
My family came to Mill Valley before 1900. It has become impossible to drive through the downtown area due to overbuilding up in the canyons. I agree totally with the above comments. Especially, I thought our cities and county are broke, no need to waste even more tax dollars. Good point, Matt! Where ARE we going to park?
Rico November 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Does anyone remember the "parklet" that was on Throckmorton between the bus depot and Pat and Joe's restaurant ? It was what we used to call the alcove. It had a concrete bench that was set back about 15 feet from the street and was completely surrounded with trees. It was a secluded hideaway. All the kids would go there to boast and drink and the cops couldn't see them. Also, it did not hog any parking and was safe from cops and traffic. Bring back the alcove !
Alan Abrams November 19, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Aside from the cost to taxpayers, there are not enough parking spaces right now. Certainly not downtown...if we had too many spaces, we wouldn't have meters at all. And not on Miller...especially after the new Miller streetscape is implemented with its reduction of +/-10% of the current parking spaces. I'm happy for Fairfax that they can try this. Mill Valley shouldn't.
jane hirt November 19, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I'm all for keeping things green, or making improvements to create a more green environment. Maybe the City should think about a free shuttle service, say from Manzanetta or Safeway on Miller, to East Blithedale, to downtown MV, so that people do not have to drive around MV for 15 minutes looking for a place to park. The downtown businesses could certainly support the shuttle service, a service that might run every 15 minutes, and everyone would profit by fewer cars, congestion, and the beautification with parklets. This service would supplement the GG bus service, as it would run continuously through the daytime and not be limited to commuter hours. I would also love to see doing away with meters/paid parking downtown-very business unfriendly. Instead, enforce a time limit parking, such as 30 minutes, 1 hour or 2 hours, whatever.
Alicia Forester November 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I love the idea of having gathering spaces for folks to sit alone or together to enjoy the gorgeous views here in Mill Valley and each other. I think places like this add to the sense of community. They also provide a respite from steel and concrete.
Sylvia "Chipps" Newsom Barsky November 19, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I agree with Kristen that the Depot area does not need a parklet. It is already maxed out with parking and the downtown area is quite beautiful with all the mature trees and benches in front of the businesses. Not to mention all the outdoor seating that is already provided by the businesses/cafes in the Downtown area. The part on Mill Valley that may benefit from more pedestrian access and enhancement would be Miller Avenue. The shops suffer from lack of walk by traffic, thus becoming a destination to drive to, not to walk, shop, dine, and linger. Any encouragement to bring pedestrian traffic to Miller Ave. would be great!
leslie reiber November 19, 2012 at 06:59 PM
And what's Jane Grey's opinion on this?? Hey, do we finally have our Patch back?
len gensburg November 19, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I agree with others that we don't have enough parking spaces downtown. The parklet plan sounds nice, and maybe it would work on Miller, where there seems to be enough parking. If so, I would suggest it be park of the Miller Street Plan, and discussed by those people involved in developing that plan.
Jame Baldovinos November 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Given the amount of vegetation all over Mill Valley the idea of parklets seems like a waste of tax money. Some areas of San Francisco are mostly devoid of vegetation and will benefit from parklets. There should be more open gathering places but that should be addressed through restaurant zoning laws allowing more outside tables.
Rico November 20, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Downtown used to have the alcove, a place right smack in the middle of Lytton square where people could gather and be surrounded by trees on 3 sides, but that was Old Mill Town. So, in that same location they chopped down all the trees to urbanize the spot. There are still benches there, but wide open to traffic views. I don't see any need at all in downtown to hog parking spots and put benches in their place right on the street. Also, they did the same thing to Tam High. When I attended Tam in the early seventies, there were tons of trees and all kinds of cool "sesh spots" where we could hide from Cady and other administrators. The campus really felt like Mill Valley at the time, and we felt sorry for the kids that had to attend Redwood HS because the place was totally devoid of hiding spots, That uniqueness is long gone from Tam HS now, they clear cut most all the trees and shrubs that were once there, with the sole purpose of eliminating any private natural places for the kids to have fun. It doesn't have to be that way. All I can say is that I'm very glad that I was around Mill Valley in the sixties and seventies. I still live here now, but I feel sorry for the kids now. I can't see how they could ever have as much fun as we did, but , they don't know what they missed out on so maybe it's just me that misses "the good old days in M.V. Now, these are the good old days for us. And who knows what the future has in store for Mill Valley, I could be worse !
Jack November 20, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Parklets are a failed concept in San Francisco. Almost all of them are eyesores and, while photographs of the best of them appear in this story, they're mostly under-utilized mini-hardscapes surrounded by vehicles, parking meters, signage and fire hydrants. Evidence shows that crack and tobacco users find comfort there.
Zack_d November 20, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I have to rebut the comments that parklets are not successful in San Franscisco. They are very successful and almost always in use. They act so great magnets for local businesses. I would agree that they aren't really needed downtown - there is the plaza, and the median in front of peet's acts as its own little parklet. However, i could see one out in front of swirl being a great idea.
Matt Bianco November 20, 2012 at 07:37 PM
On second thought, I think they would be wonderful and they won't have to cost us one tax penny. We can sell naming rights! And since the local business cannot match the national ad buyers in capacity, we may get wonderful new parks like: * K-Mart Park * Office Max Outdoor Office Center * Walmart Parklet * GE Capital - Small Parks for Your Neighborhood * Microsoft Outdoor Office 2012 * Clorox Clean Parks * Jack in the Park
Ann Spake December 02, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Parklets may be attractive as greenery but as leisure sitting places are a health hazard due to known adverse lung impacts from proximity to car and truck exhaust. We tend to romanticize Old Europe with its seating next to narrow cobblestone streets but lets remember those traditions pre-dated the use of the auto!


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