The concept of parking space patios has been around for a while… in other cities. This past Sunday, my wife and I took a drive to Hamilton, Ontario. In 2017, the city’s councillors voted unanimously to allow these super cool features along their commercial streets. Throughout the day, we passed by a number of these patios.
Each one looked pretty much the same, but each one was different because of the respective business that it served. We ended up eating a hamburger and a beer at the first one that we came across. It was so much fun. Besides being a brilliant concept and a game changer for the businesses, the on-street patios also act as a method of traffic calming. It was easy to tell that cars took a much slower approach as they passed by – not only because it’s safer to go slow, but because it’s great people watching.
Another parking lot patio that we came across was serving ice cream. Another actually posted “Outside Food Welcome”. The business that installed the patio turned out to be a hair salon!
We first started talking about this concept on BRO years ago. Unfortunately, talk is cheap and the cities that actually go out and make these things happen end up winning. They win business. They win young people. They win for being inventive and playful… and not simply sitting around waiting for other cities to take action.
In Buffalo, getting a patio can be akin to pulling teeth. One would think that there was something very complicated about opening a patio, which is not the case. It would be interesting to see an idea like this if it were brought to The City. If we can’t wrap our heads around making patios an easier process, then can you imagine trying to make “On-Street Patio Program” a reality? Well, Hamilton gets it. And because they “get it”, they get the fundamentals of urbanism.
Developer Rocco Termini went to City Hall to apply for a permit for one of these on street patios and was DENIED… twice! The City cited “liability” – Termini replied that that is why he carries insurance. Obviously that went right over The City’s head and once again, we’re stuck with zero visionaries who can’t get out of their own way.
Ultimately, this is a spin-off of PARK(ing) Day,* where cities focus on the humanization of a city, rather than focusing on car culture.
City Hall, if you’re listening, take a look at Hamilton’s rules and regulations, which offers businesses a chance to extend their offerings to the street. You want to talk about building a community by being progressive? Well, allow a few businesses to access a couple of parking spaces in order to capitalize on foot traffic. We’re already seeing the sensational results in a neighboring city – what more could you ask for?
*PARK(ing) Day is the third Friday of September every year