MEDFORD, Ore. -- In response to the indoor capacity restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Medford began allowing
temporary use of on-street parking spaces by downtown businesses in 2020.
This allowed restaurants and bars to continue operating by allowing them to provide outdoor seating and dining to patrons within
the on-street parking spaces adjacent to their business.
At the request of the Council and due to the success of the temporary measure, the Planning Department prepared a draft code amendment along with a design and construction manual to allow parklets on a permanent basis.
Newswatch 12 spoke to the principal planner for the city of Medford, Carla Paldino, who said there is not a set criteria to apply for the program with new changes that go into effect starting October 1.
"We do have a manual that we've created to provide some guidance so they can look at that before they apply for the pre-application just to know what the standards are."
Paladino tells NewsWatch 12, the pre-application does come with a cost.
"Pre-application is $400. The formal application is $275. We will be requiring a $500 deposit for when you create the parklet, if it needs to be removed. if something happens to the business, that would give the city the ability to remove it."
Most pre-fabricated parklets would meet the City’s requirements. The original fee proposed has been reduced and the renewal fee is being removed to keep the program affordable.
"There has been discussion about using some American rescue plan dollars to help buy some of them, so we're still in the initial talk about that. So hopefully, there will be some dollars to help."
Newswatch 12 asked if parklets would last beyond the age of the pandemic and Paladino's response was, "That's the goal. We would love for them to be a permanent fixture downtown, and to kind of bring that vibrancy, and community feel outside."
The Gypsy Blues Bar, Jefferson's Spirits, Portal Brewing Co., and Beerworks are all currently utilizing the parklet program downtown.
Owner of Beerworks, Chris Dennett tells Newswatch 12 he looks forward to keeping his parklet up, as it's been a "lifeline" for businesses.