Alexandria will charge restaurants for outdoor dining ‘parklets’ – NBC4 Washington
Alexandria, Va., has seen a surge in outdoor restaurants and retail during the pandemic. Now the city says businesses will have to pay if they want to continue using street parking.
After two years of free use, Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a plan on Tuesday to charge businesses for their “parklets”.
The council has opted to extend its temporary parklet program until October. Then businesses will have to pay and be required to have platforms so that parklets are at curb level and accessible to people with disabilities.
In the old town, the manager of Il Porto Ristorante said he was frustrated with the town plan.
“We pay sales tax, we pay meal tax, we pay property tax to the city. They still want to tax us a little more? I don’t think that’s fair,” Edrees Amarkhel said.
The city has considered charging different prices for parklets in different neighborhoods, with Old Town being the most expensive, city planner Alex Block said Monday.
“We looked at metered parking space meter revenue. We looked at other types of permits that we have – the amounts we charge for similar types of uses of public space,” he said.
By comparison, DC doesn’t charge a fee for its parklets, also known as “streateries.” Arlington County charges a fixed fee of $2,100 for the first year, plus a renewal fee of $500.
Charlotte Hall of the Old Town Business Group said on Monday that the city’s platform requirement could be too, too fast.
“Georgetown had platforms. They have removed most of their platforms since launch. They may have been great for the start in Georgetown, but I’m not convinced it’s the right thing for Old Town,” she said.
A caveat for Old Town is tied to the 100 block of King Street, where the road is permanently closed to cars. If the many restaurants in the neighborhood want to continue using their parks, they will have to pay to occupy a parking space that will never be used for parking.
In the first year, parklet fees will be reduced by 50%.
City staff estimated the cost per platform to be between $5,000 and $10,000. The council is considering ways to help businesses meet this cost.