Never more popular, tiny park spaces are seeing more use than ever next to the curb. Here’s everything you need to know to launch a parklet program in your operation, including parklet design elements.

By Jonathan Wicks, CAPP, and Chrissy Mancini Nichols

parklet design feature in June Issue of Parking & Mobility

IF THE CURB IS THE GATEWAY TO YOUR CITY, then a parklet might be a business’s front porch. What are some parklet design considerations for creating safe and comfortable parklets to visit with family and friends? Read on to find out what you might want to consider for your parklet program planning.General Considerations for Parklet Design

Parklets generally entail the conversion of one or more parallel or angled parking spaces. The number of spaces varies according to the site, context, and desired character of the installation. A parklet can serve one or multiple businesses depending on what’s desired as your city or campus allows. Safety elements at the outside corners of the parklet, such as flexible posts or bollards, alert drivers to the presence of a parklet, which may not have existed the last time they parked in this neighborhood. Wheel stops installed on either end of the parklet also serve as a buffer between parking and sitting spaces.

Streets maintain drainage so parklets must main­tain stormwater drainage to curbs. A parklet flush with the curb (no more than 1/2-inch gap), level with the adjacent sidewalk, and accessible at several locations by pedestrians may be accessible without the addition of a ramp. Minimize horizontal and vertical gaps be­tween the curb and the parklet surface to have a seam­less connection with the existing curb to meet ADA requirements. Additional street design elements such as fire hydrants, transit stops, driveways, manholes, or public utility valves/covers will also need clearance.

Sight Line Elements

Avoid creating a buffer or obstacles in between the outside edge and railings where sightlines are needed for pedestrians to safely enter and exit the space. In no case shall any portion of the parklet, or any furniture placed upon it, obstruct the view of a traffic control de­vice. Parklet designs should provide sufficient space and gaps to allow for fire department to be able to attack a fire in the adjacent buildings is critical. Check with the local fire depart­ment for requirements.

Safety elements at the outside corners of the parklet, such as flexible posts or bollards, alert drivers to the presence of a parklet, which may not have existed the last time they parked in this neighborhood.A one-foot setback from the edge of an adjacent bike lane or vehicle travel lane creates an edge to buf­fer the street. This edge can take the form of planters, railing, cabling, or some other appropriate buffer. The height and scale of the buffer required will vary de­pending on the site’s context. The parklet frame should be a freestanding structural foundation that rests on the street surface or curb. No features or structural components may be permanently attached to the street, curb, or adjacent planting strip. Parklets must be designed for ADA compliance and shall be easily removable if/when necessary.

Single-level parklets shall only be installed on streets with a grade less than 5 percent. Multi-level parklets can handle steep­er grades but will need at least one accessible entryway. In gen­eral, parklets should be placed at least one parking space from corners. The presence of a bulb-out, an on-street bicycle corral, or some other physical barrier may allow placement closer than that. Parklets shall be placed no closer than 15 feet from catch basins or fire hydrants.

The parklet design must ensure visibility to passing traffic and pedestrians and not create a visual barrier. The parklet shall maintain a visual connection to the street. The parklet should have a notable, defined edge along the side of the parklet facing the roadway and adjacent parking stalls to protect parklet users from moving traffic. This can be accomplished via a continuous railing, planter, fence, or similar structure. The height of the outside wall is dependent on the context but should be between 30 inches minimum on the street side to a maximum of 42 inch­es. A minimum 1-foot buffer should be maintained between the parklet features and the travel lane to increase safety adjacent to moving traffic.

Parklet Design in Loading Zones or Short-term Spaces

If you are considering putting a parklet or streatery in a loading zone or other specialty designated space, it is recommended you first look for a nearby location to move that zone and then notify other businesses on the block of your desire to do so. Consider­ation can be given to removing the special zone with acknowl­edgment from the impacted block’s other property managers, owners, street-level businesses, and/or residential property associations. There may be a public hearing requirement in some jurisdictions for the removal of special zones.

Parklet Amenities

Additional street design elements such as fire hydrants, transit stops, driveways, manholes, or public utility valves/covers will also need clearance.Seating

All parklets are encouraged to provide built-in seating, which can be integrated in a variety of creative ways. These seats can be a part of the structure, planters, or creative features within the parklet. Comfortable places to sit are important to creating wel­coming and inviting public spaces. Additional movable seating is recommended as well. This seating can be removed and stored at the end of the day or locked with cables to the parklet structure.


Your parklet design should consider some type of landscaping. Land­scape plantings help soften the space and can serve as a pleasant buffer along the street-facing edge. Landscape elements may be incorporated as planter boxes, hanging planters, green walls, raised beds, or similar features. Drought-tolerant and native plants are good choices for ease of maintenance. Edible plants and plants with fragrance, texture, and seasonal interest are also recommended.


Jurisdictions should consider requiring signage indicating the space is public. In the case of streateries, the sign must explain the hours when the streatery is for the use of the adjacent busi­ness and when it’s available to the general public. These signs should be mounted to both ends of the parklet and should be visible from the adjacent sidewalk. Signs acknowledging spon­sorship, logos, or designs that “brand” the parklet must comply with local codes or regulations.

Heating and Gas Power

Outdoor heaters and elements that use gas or propane fuel can help to make your parklet more comfortable throughout the year. Heating and gas-powered features are allowed in parklets/streateries but will require an additional permit.


Lighting is allowed but may require a permit, depending on what you propose. Self-contained low-voltage systems, such as solar or battery-powered lights, are a good choice. Decorative or sea­sonal lighting may be allowed in street trees near the parklet.

Plan Submittal Elements

Plans should include sufficient detail as to allow for adequate review. Consider including these items on plan submittals and permit applications:

  • Location on the street.
  • Street and sidewalk utilities (i.e., manholes, water valves, etc.).
  • Street poles and signs.
  • Fire hydrants and Fire Department connections on adjacent buildings.
  • Street furniture (litter cans, benches, etc.).
  • Street trees, including tree surrounds.
  • Sidewalk and street grade elevations.
  • Parklet dimensions.
  • Parklet materials and details as necessary.
  • Parklet planting plan.
  • Flexible delineator posts and wheel stops.
  • Material, design elements, or other proposed features.

Author 1

author Johnathan Wicks JONATHAN WICKS, CAPP, is a project manager with Walker Consultants. He can be reached at

Author 1

author Christine Mancini NicholsCHRISSY MANCINI NICHOLS is lead, curb management and mobility, with Walker Consultants. She can be reached at