Larkspur Left Bank gets extension from parklet removal

The Left Bank Brewery in Larkspur will have until September 15 to withdraw its outdoor catering park, but it will no longer be able to serve guests there, under a newly approved rule.

The bylaw prohibits Left Bank and any other restaurant from operating a parklet on any street other than Magnolia Avenue. The Left Bank structure is on Ward Street, which shares a corner with Magnolia Avenue.

When the policy was approved in June, the city council gave the Left Bank until July 31 to remove the structure. Restaurant manager Frank Caiazzo requested a waiver of the rule and was granted an extension until August 8.

In letters to the board ahead of the meeting, Caiazzo said he would tear it down, if necessary, but would need time to find the $3,000+ it would cost to do so.

The council voted unanimously to grant another extension until September 15.

“He’s agreed to take it down,” council member Catherine Way said. “He asked for several extensions, and I think we gave him several extensions.”

Way said she was moved by comments from Jerome Bernal, owner of the Blue Rock Apartments, which sits above the Left Bank restaurant. Bernal said his first-floor tenants moved out because of noise from the outdoor dining area.

Towns and villages in Marin have been considering whether to continue the parklet trend, which was designed to help struggling restaurants and cafes generate revenue during the pandemic.

The topic has been controversial in Larkspur, where council said it was weighing parking issues and noise complaints against benefits for a few restaurants.

Left Bank is the only restaurant park still standing. Eight other businesses had parklets, but they were demolished when Magnolia Avenue was repaved earlier this year.

Businesses must reapply for permits to install parklets, and structures will now only be permitted on Magnolia Avenue.

The new rules extend the parklet program until the end of the year.

Parklets are limited to a “sidewalk bypass design,” which means the structure must meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Permits require owner consent.

Approved design standards mimic those adopted by the Novato City Council, which require planters in the corners of parks and 30-40 inch open guardrails. Umbrellas are allowed, but roofs are not.

Caiazzo said he spent $50,000 on his small park.

“I’m disappointed,” Caiazzo said after the game. “I see other towns in Marin working with restaurateurs to make this work. I don’t see Larkspur City Council doing the same.

Caiazzo said the restaurant doesn’t have the budget to build a new parklet on Magnolia now. If the council extends the parklet program beyond January, Caiazzo said the restaurant would consider applying for a permit.

“What we hope is that the city will do its due diligence and come up with a more business-friendly plan,” he said. “At the moment we don’t know if they can be permanent, so spending the money to demolish one and rebuild another on a busier street is just too much for us to undertake.”

About Justin Howze

Check Also

New York restaurants struggle to recover – Reuters

Kymme Williams-Davis takes an order at her Bushwick Grind Cafe in New York on Thursday. …