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City Council approves outdoor dining parklets for Open Sesame, Aroma di Roma

There are now three approved parklets in the Belmont Shore stretch of Second Street where residents say they will negatively affect parking.

City Council approves outdoor dining parklets for Open Sesame, Aroma di Roma
The Aroma di Roma will be about 98 square feet and take up one street parking space. Photo by Jake Gotta

Second Street in Belmont Shore will see two new outdoor dining parklets installed after the City Council voted to allow Open Sesame and Aroma di Roma to move forward with their proposed projects Tuesday night.

The two popular establishments had their proposed parklets unanimously approved by other city bodies late last year but, because they both faced opposition from residents, a City Council hearing was triggered. The council’s vote is final on both projects but each parklet approved by the city must be renewed annually.

Residents neighboring the Second Street corridor continued to blast the idea of allowing parklets to be installed in Belmont Shore, pointing to an already tight parking situation, added noise pollution and safety concerns due to vehicle traffic and accessibility issues.

“Aroma di Roma and Open Sesame are my two favorite restaurants,” said Belmont Shore resident Estella Tijidor. “As much as I love those places, it doesn’t warrant giving away parking spots in a parking-impacted area.”

However, supporters of parklets said they’re important for the continued growth of the local economy and that they provide a more enjoyable experience for patrons.

Kurt Schneider, president of the Belmont Shore Business Association, said parklets are a win for businesses by allowing them to increase sales, which benefits the city though additional tax revenue. The addition of more parklets also would enhance the ambiance of the area, Schneider said.

“It’s a wonderful thing to get people to go outside and enjoy the fresh air,” he said.

The Open Sesame parklet (two) and Aroma di Roma (one) will take up three on-street parking spaces once they’re installed. They’ll join the already-approved parklet at Legends Sports Bar, which will occupy the two parking spaces in front of the popular bar and restaurant.

Belmont Shore businesses with parklets are required to replace the metered parking revenue that is lost when they’re installed through an increase in their annual fees. Like all parklets in the city, they’re also required to post signage stating the spaces are open to the public regardless of a purchase being made.

Long Beach Public Works is also in the process of reimagining the parking layout along the busy corridor with preliminary plans suggesting that dozens of spaces could be converted to 24-minute parking spaces or loading zones.

Several other restaurants along the corridor have applied for permits to install permanent parklets in front of their shops and the list has roiled activists who say that it’s untenable for the area.

While just three have been approved in the area, Public Works Director Eric Lopez told the council Tuesday that there are up to 12 other businesses in the area that are in various stages of the application process.

“First come, first served,” said Councilmember Al Austin. “I feel like this is going to get tougher over time to approve.”

Julie Dean, president of the Belmont Shore Residents Association, has been an outspoken critic of parklets in the area and said the council’s approval of the two parklets Tuesday goes against the community’s will.

“This ignores the hundreds and hundreds of emails to council offices from residents over the past four years expressing unequivocal opposition to permanent parklets in our community,” Dean said.

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