Outdoor Dining a Victim of its Own Success in One Wealthy Bay Area City

The California city has received complaints about overcrowding even as the program sought to create more outdoor public space during the pandemic.

1 minute read

April 20, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


San Carlos, California

The Sunday Farmers' Market on Laurel St., San Carlos, California, in October 2018. | jejim / Shutterstock

In move that signals the debate brewing over the future of "pandemic streets," the city of San Carlos, California is poised to end the outdoor dining program on its main commercial corridor, Laurel Street, citing concerns about "lack of social distancing and congestion from pedestrian overcrowding" as the state looks to a full reopening in the coming months.

Although the program, which "has been successful economically and is supported by many downtown businesses," was instituted to provide more safe spaces for residents to socialize outdoors and patronize local businesses, "residents have complained to the city about nighttime activities and overcrowded parklets." If the city council decides to end it, the move "would return 150 parking spaces in the downtown area and open up the roads to vehicular traffic, and would allow for the return of downtown community events such as the farmers’ market, San Carlos Block Party and Goblin Walk, the city said."

Monday, April 12, 2021 in Climate Magazine

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

View of Palos Verdes Drive along Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California at sunset.

Erosion Threatens SoCal Road, Lloyd Wright Icon

The city of Palos Verdes is closing parts of a roadway to cyclists, citing safety concerns as the land underneath moves between 7 and 12 inches per week.

June 23 - Daily Breeze

Faded image of vacant storefront in rural area with American flag stars painteind on windows.

COVID Isn’t to Blame for the Retail Vacancy Crisis

A drop in demand for retail space began well before the seismic shifts of the pandemic.

June 23 - Slate

Heavy New York City traffic headed toward Holland Tunnel in Manhattan.

Judge Rules in Favor of MTA in Congestion Pricing Suit

Advocates of the program are calling on Gov. Hochul to reinstate the program in light of the decision.

June 23 - StreetsBlog NYC

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.