Council Explores Temporary Parklet Program To Revive Downtown

Staff Reports

On Tuesday, the San Marcos City Council considered an ordinance creating a temporary program for parklets to help downtown recover from the COVID-19 Stay-At-Home orders.

The program allows businesses to temporarily convert on-street parking spaces adjacent to their shop into outdoor seating.

According to the agenda, the purpose of the program is to provide an aesthetic enhancement to the downtown streetscape and provide businesses with additional visible service area to activate downtown in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Main Street has applied for a $10,000 grant from the National Main Street Center to provide businesses with additional visible service area and help revitalize downtown.

If awarded, the grant funds will be distributed to businesses who have successfully applied for and been granted a Temporary Parklet Permit. Grant winners will be announced on May 18.

Councilmember Melissa Derrick proposed an amendment that would allow up to four parklets on a block.

The amendment allows up to two parklets on each side of the block face or side of the street. It passed unanimously by the council.

The temporary ordinance allows food sales in the parklet but does not allow alcohol. The ordinance passed as an emergency measure on the first and only reading unanimously by the council.

The ordinance will remain in effect until August 15, 2020.

San Marcos Parklets through the years

The City has participated in annual Park(ing) Day since 2013, which is an international event encouraging community members to turn a parking space into a park for a day.

In 2015, the City adopted a Sidewalk Café, Parklets and Special Uses Ordinance to create a public-private partnership for streetscape improvements in the public realm. Several sidewalk cafés have been installed downtown through this program.

The temporary parklet program adopted by City Council on May 5 authorizes short-term parklet installations, waives the application fee, and allows for modified design standards to help businesses create a more economical parklet. Temporary parklet installations will be permitted through August 14, 2020.

Interested businesses can click here to learn about the program and download the application.

All applications can be submitted via email to the Planning and Development Services Department at

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