Is it time for Kirkland to re-think how we permit outdoor sidewalk dining? Other cities have expanded dining options to include "streateries" small cafes located in on-street parking spaces. Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco and Denver have all found solutions from which Kirkland could benefit.
The concept is intriguing as it would permit most Kirkland restaurants to expand their seating capacity during the warm summer months. From the perspective of this frequent patron of Kirkland restaurants, more dining al fresco would be welcomed. In addition, such a move would make Kirkland unique on the Eastside.
There is a caveat, of course. And this is a big one: Streateries should be implemented ONLY IF net parking supply is not reduced.
The city of Kirkland has slowly reduced the amount of parking in downtown Kirkland for far too many years. Some applaud this move. We most certainly do not because restricted parking puts up a barrier to visitors spending their time and money in Kirkland. Many otherwise enthusiastic proponents of streateries may disagree with this caveat but it needs to be a part of the plan. Compromise is the way to move forward and to create great amenities in the real world of today, one must recognize that people really do stay away from downtown Kirkland because of traffic and parking.
I am an ardent advocate of downtown economic development. I am an advocate of removing barriers to people who want to spend their time and money in Kirkland. I firmly believe that parking is a reason many avoid downtown Kirkland.
I also think there is a compromise position in which an individual such as myself could comfortably support streateries. Can we recognize the disparate interests of our community and find a way to improve our city? What say you?