ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Starting Monday, St. Petersburg is doing away with the concrete barriers and fences.
The city's parklets program, which permitted business owners to have or expand outdoor seating using parking spaces in response to COVID-19, is coming to an end.
The program was always meant to be temporary but the announced end date generated mixed reactions from the business community. One retail shop owner said the lack of parking in busy St. Pete has impacted her business but some in the food and beverage business stress it must stay.
Bandit Coffee Co. owners petitioned the city to keep the program citing the ongoing threat of the pandemic and an anticipated increase of attendants this fall.
"We're doing it for businesses that don't have a parking lot and customers that have health issues," co-owner Joshua Weaver said.
Currently, the business is not allowing indoor dining. Weaver said the two parking spots used for outdoor dining has allowed more customers to feel safe.
He added because his coffee business sees a lot of fast turnover from customers, chances for transmission are higher.
But ultimately, Weaver said petitioning is about standing up for his staff, customers and other businesses in support of the program.
"It's not always about money for us. It's about doing the most that we can for people," Weaver said.
The city states it's willing to work with business owners on a more permanent solution, but any changes in the zoning law would come after the Oct. 18 deadline.
If they do find a way to bring parklets back, the city has told business owners it would be looking for something prettier, safer for those so close to traffic, and perhaps a financial arrangement to make up for the lost parking spaces.