Berkeley Could Redefine the Al Fresco Streets Movement

The city of Berkeley is pursuing an aggressive plan to open the streets for outdoor dining as an economic development tool for local commercial businesses.

1 minute read

May 17, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Al Fresco Gelato

BondRocketImages / Shutterstock

The Berkeley City Council is considering legislation that would "fully close many of the city’s streets, repurposing them as seating areas for the city’s vibrant restaurant scene," according to an article by Eve Batey.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín is quoted in the article crediting Vilnius, Lithuania with the idea. As noted by Batey, another big Bay Area city, San José, has also followed in the footsteps of the Lithuanian capital

The plans for al fresco streets in Berkeley go a few steps beyond plans in other cities, explains Batey. "Unlike some proposals, which mention restaurant use of parklets, sidewalks, or parking spaces, the Berkeley plan — which Arreguín and Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn introduced today — would completely close city streets during restaurant operation hours, Arreguín says, allowing residents to again 'go out, be safe, and still enjoy our local restaurants.'"

The city is currently reaching out to businesses for ideas about which streets to close. "Along with the streets could also come a plan for restaurants to repurpose other public spaces, like private parking lots and plazas," reports Batey.

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