NEW ORLEANS — Tomorrow the New Orleans City Council will decide what the future of parklets looks like after hearing from business owners and residents across the city today.
Many expressed concerns about what the final permits should include and how much it should cost businesses.
Pepp's Bar owner, Sam Wourth, said he's hopeful his parklet is here to stay.
“The positives have been incredible. People love sitting outside having a beer and it makes my bar look fun and attractive because people are out in front of it having a great time. It’s been amazing," Wourth said, "I really need this parklet to keep my business successful."
Wourth is one of 40 business owners who opted-in to the temporary parklet program in the fall of 2020 when COVID-19 had its grip on local bars and restaurants.
Nearby, Wourth's neighbors at Silk Road Restaurant and Wine Bar want to keep their parklet, too.
“Some people still prefer to sit outside," Chef Ganesh Ayyengar said.
Both of these Marigny businesses are willing to comply with whatever safety regulations and permits the city decides on, but the folks at Silk Road do have a concern about the proposed fees that range from $10.50 - $31.50/sq ft depending on location.
"There’s no reason why, first off, why we should be grouped in with the French Quarter who has metered parking. You know we’re not taking away any revenue from the city like they would be, but also just the amount it was kind of just created out of thin air and completely unjustified," Silk Road Wine Director, Cassie Borden, said.
During the Economic Development meeting Wednesday, the New Orleans City Council said it will review the fees and possibly consider waiving them as some businesses are still trying to get back on their feet.
While some neighborhoods want the parklets to stay, folks across the city had different concerns.
“Magazine is not going to get wider so if you already know that, why waste people’s time to go through the process if you just sort of have a restrictive area," one woman said at the meeting.
The City will consider which areas to restrict due to safety and congestion concerns.
Councilmember, Oliver Thomas, expressed concern about losing parking spaces.
“We’re losing something, but maybe we’re gaining something more. I don’t know," Thomas said.
Under the proposed permanent parklet program:
- Parklets must be ADA compliant
- Parklets will not be allowed in areas with a speed limit of 30 MPH or more
- Parklets must be removable for things such as parades and hurricanes
- The City's design guidelines will be enforced
- Parklet hours of operation will be limited to 8AM-10PM
Some businesses worry that they will have to put in additional money to match the City's design guidelines.
But Pepp's Pub isn't concerned.
“Beautifying the neighborhood is something we could all strive for," Wourth said.
Because in a city where you can already drink in the street, some think a permanent seat to do it is beautiful.