Parklets bring more outdoor seating to downtown Auburn

More permanent outdoor seating will become available as Auburn builds new “parklets” in the downtown area.

Parklets are small public spaces that usually extend from the sidewalk into the street. Right now, the only parklet in Auburn sits outside of Rail Hop’n Brewery at 122 W. Main St. and will be used as outdoor seating for the restaurant. The city plans to build three more parklets.

The intention behind the parklets is to re-purpose underutilized areas in downtown Auburn and create spaces where people can sit and relax to read a newspaper or eat lunch, Director of Community Development Jeff Tate said.

There are no parks downtown and few places for people to sit down if they’re shopping or walking downtown, Tate said. The parklets aim to fix that issue and increase foot traffic by making the city more walkable as more people move to the city, he said.

Even though most of the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, COVID-19 is still a problem, and creating more outdoor seating is in the best interest for public safety, Tate said.

Each parklet costs about $6,000 and is built by city staff, not outside contractors. Aside from taking up one parking spot, the parklets don’t adversely affect traffic, and they’re installed on streets with a speed limit of 25 mph. The parklets are all the same width, but will range in length from 16 to 24 feet, the same sizes as parking stalls in the city.

The city plans on building more parklets outside of restaurants that don’t have any outdoor seating.