A parklet widely recognized as the standard by which all others should be built in downtown Palm Springs received the official blessing of the city’s Architectural Review Committee (ARC) Monday evening.
The 436-square-foot structure, which serves as an extension of the dining area for Tac/Quila restaurant at 415 North Palm Canyon Dr., received unanimous approval from the Committee during its regular meeting Monday. Review by the ARC is only necessary in certain instances, such as when the parklet extends into the space of a neighboring business or contains features not necessarily permitted by city rules.
The Tac/Quila structure extends past the restaurant’s limits to the north but received the full support of the owner of its neighboring business, Desert Legal Documents.
“As far as the parklets go, it’s one of the best ones in town and should be a template for others in the city,” said Dan Thompson, an ARC member. “It’s done extremely well.”
There was little question the parklet would meet standards passed by the City Council in September. The co-owner of the restaurant, Liz Ostoich, served on a subcommittee to determine parklet design standards and has invested tens of thousands of dollars to build the structure outside Tac/Quila using high-end materials.
“We’re just so grateful to the city for the parklet program and our ability to have use of that space for customers during the COVID period,” Ostoich said Monday. “It’s built to a high standard to be fitting to our brand.”
A second parklet requiring a waiver, outside El Patron along West Tahquitz Canyon Way, was also unanimously approved by the Committee, with conditions. Unlike the parklet at Tac/Quila, El Patron’s has a permanent shade structure, requiring approval by the ARC.
The owner of El Patron, Alex Gonzales, had earlier removed a second parklet, located along Palm Canyon Drive. While the structure on West Tahquitz Canyon Way will remain, concrete barriers around the structure will be removed.
Parklets — public seating platforms and other designs that convert sidewalk areas and curbside parking spaces into usable spaces — were first allowed in summer 2020 to help restaurant owners provide outdoor seating. At the time, indoor seating was not allowed under state regulations put in place as COVID-19 raged.
The result in downtown Palm Springs was a mix of expensive, elaborately designed structures and others that one resident described as “shanty shacks on our streets,” taking over multiple parking spots. Frustrations mounted when retail shop owners pointed out that while they could not display their wares on sidewalks, restaurants were allowed to set up dining spaces free of charge, often hiding the entrances to the retail stores.
As city staff and elected officials held discussions about regulating the structures during this past summer, many began to disappear. An informal count shows about a half dozen parklets remain between Tamarisk and Baristo roads on Palm Canyon Drive and between Baristo Road and East Tahquitz Canyon Way on Indian Canyon Drive.
RELATED: A second location for Tac/Quila, first reported by The Post on November 2, received the go-ahead from the ARC Monday evening for some minor architectural modifications. The proposed modifications include replacement of existing windows with a folding glass wall — known as nano doors — and new planters for an outdoor seating space.