Commercial Streets Program

Commercial Streets logo  

On June 19, 2020, the City launched its Commercial Streets program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to support the health and safety of Alameda and its businesses. The program streamlined the permit approval process for expanding dining and retail into new parklets (using parking spaces) and the sidewalks. It also repurposed the roadway along core parts of Park and Webster Streets to greatly increase the area available for outdoor dining, retail and services. Given the successes of the program and the continued need to support business recovery, on November 2, 2021, the City Council approved a two-year extension of the program, through October 2023. Staff are beginning to implement the recommendations and will update this web page as new materials become available. 

With a parklet, a business can convert the existing (or former) parking space(s) in front of and/or near the business into an area for outdoor dining, retail or services. In 2020, the City streamlined the parklet permit process and over 30 parklet applications were issued. In 2022, an updated program was developed. Currently permits are being issued through November 2023.

Permit Application and Guidance:

Go to Public Works webpage. Click "Permits" tab, and then find documents under "COVID 19: Outdoor Retail, Services and Dining." 

Questions: 

Email: PWPermits@alamedaca.gov

Businesses in the Park and Webster Street Business Improvement Areas (BIAs):

Are allowed to set up outdoor dining, retail and services following the conditions outlined in the Outdoor Commercial Usage Conditions (find link below). No plans, permits or insurance documents are required in these areas, since all businesses are covered by the BIAs' encroachment permits. A minimum of eight feet of clear space for walking must be maintained along Park and Webster Streets, and six feet on the side streets.

For Businesses within all other commercial areas of Alameda:

The sidewalk may be used for outdoor dining, retail and services with an approved Sidewalk Usage Encroachment Permit. A minimum of six feet of clear space for walking must always be maintained. 

Permit Application and Outdoor Commercial Usage Conditions Guidance:

Go to Public Works webpage. Click "Permits" tab, and then find documents under "COVID 19: Outdoor Retail, Services and Dining." 

Questions: 

Email: PWPermits@alamedaca.gov

All businesses in commercial districts in Alameda are allowed to use their privately-owned outdoor (un-enclosed open air) space and parking lots for outdoor dining, retail, and commercial uses. The use of the space must meet the conditions in the amended citywide Use Permit(PDF, 252KB). No additional plans, permits or insurance documents are required.

This use is allowed per Use Permit #PLN20-0215 which was approved by the Planning Board on June 22, 2020, and amended on October 26, 2020(PDF, 363KB), June 14, 2021(PDF, 252KB), and November 15, 2021. The permit will expire on November 15, 2023. 

At the direct request of DABA and WABA, the City reconfigured the core areas of Park and Webster Streets to “expand” the sidewalk by converting the existing parking lane into space for outdoor dining, retail, and the lining up of customers. The goal was to create enough space to allow for both a safe passage for people walking and shopping along these commercial corridors and for businesses to move some of their operations outdoors, given the County Health Order limitations in place through June 15, 2021 on indoor business. The parking lanes were moved into the nearest travel lane, narrowing core segments of these two streets to one lane in each direction, as follows:

  • Park Street from Lincoln to Encinal Avenues was completed on July 10, 2020

  • Webster Street from Lincoln to Taylor was completed on August 7, 2020

  • An extension of Park Street south to San Jose was completed on April 2, 2021

Six new in-street bicycle parking corrals were installed in June 2021: four on Park Street and two on Webster Street.

Staff continue to monitor the changes and make modifications, as needed. Per Council direction on November 2nd, staff will develop recommendations for the long-term configurations of Park St and Webster St, with community input, by October 2023. 

Park St_aerial_2020-07-10.jpg

 

 

In June and July 2021, City staff conducted a thorough evaluation of the program, including public engagement, to help the Council determine if and how the program should continue beyond October 2021.

  • Community survey (1750+ responses)
  • Community events: Two virtual town halls and two in-person events were held.
  • Business input: WABA and DABA surveyed their businesses and held two virtual workshops

Staff recommendations were brought to the Transportation Commission's July 28 meeting, where they were unanimously supported by the Commission, and to the Planning Board on September 27, which overall supported the direction of the program.

The recommendations were then slightly revised, and considered and approved by the City Council on November 2, 2021

The City Council first approved the Commercial Streets program at their May 19, 2020 meeting with the strong support of Alameda’s major business associations. The program streamlined the permit approval process for expanding dining and retail into new parklets (using parking spaces) and the sidewalks. It also included repurposing the roadway along core parts of Park and Webster Streets to greatly increase the area available for outdoor dining, retail and services. City staff worked closely with the Downtown Area Business Association (DABA) and the West Alameda Business Association (WABA) to develop this new program, which supported the health of our businesses and the community through the COVID 19 pandemic.

Per Council direction given in October 2020 and March 2021, the program was approved through October 31, 2021.

After an extensive evaluation, on November 2, 2021, the City Council approved staff's recommendation to extend the program for two years, through November 2023.

As of June 2021, the City had issued over 30 parklet permits and 6 sidewalk seating permits.