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Tiny Parks Called 'Parklets' Coming to 3 Seattle Neighborhoods

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CIDBIA

Meet the "parklet," a little patch of public space about to take root in three Seattle neighborhoods.

"We want people to be out enjoying the sun and having lunch outside," said Don Blakeney, executive director of the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area, a group hoping to fund a parklet in the neighborhood.

The city is granting permits for the parklets, but private businesses are responsible for building and maintaining these micro public spaces. These would be temporary spaces, but they could last a few years. 

The way Blakeney sees it, a parklet creates a more vibrant streetscape and gives something unique to passersby. 

"You take this spot that’s adjacent to a curb, and you turn it into an area that people can use for seating, for takeout food, for reading," he said.

Or postcard-writing. The International District parklet would sit outside a hostel and the adjacent Fuji Bakery on Sixth Avenue South. 

The idea behind these little patches of reclaimed asphalt and sidewalk comes from San Francisco, which has 40 of these spaces. Some have been elaborately designed with bike racks and planters and have cost upwards of $15,000 to build.

In Seattle, parklets are currently being proposed outside the City Hostel on Second Avenue in Belltown as well as Montana, a bar on Capitol Hill.

Some local residents here have argued against something that eats up parking space, especially in neighborhoods where it can be tough to find a parking spot. The city's Department of Transportation is taking public comment on the proposed parklets through Aug. 7. 

Florangela Davila is KNKX’s news director. A journalist in Seattle since 1992, she’s earned numerous individual and team honors in print, online and broadcast, most recently three regional Murrows for KNKX.