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Boston Parklets Program

The program offers residents and local businesses greater public space on which to gather and relax. Parklets are sidewalk extensions which occupy parking spaces, creating community spaces to hang out on, much like front porches or stoops. 

Parklets create seasonal pedestrian space, improving the quality of life in Boston’s neighborhoods and commercial corridors. We encourage them in every neighborhood and community— especially those with frequent pedestrian activity with minimal seating options for shop owners and residents.

Parklets can combine extra seating, trees, flowers, shrubs, umbrellas, Wi-Fi, art and/or lighting. They bring activity to small business districts and are a unique approach to space-making in areas with limited sidewalk widths.

Boston Complete Streets

The Parklet Program is one component of the Boston Complete Streets Program. Parklets present an opportunity for the merchants, community organizations, business owners, and residents to take individual action in the development and beautification of the City’s public realm.

Learn about the program

A parklet in Boston
Location/Specifications
  • Parklets cannot be located on top of any public utility.
  • Sidewalk to parklet entry and exit must be flush with adjacent area-way and accessible to an entrance of the parklet.
  • Parklets must be raised from the pavement, with unobstructed water flow and drainage underneath. Parklets must also be sufficiently set back from travel lanes and parking spaces with a barrier between.
  • Parklet seating area must be separated from traffic with a hard edge through railings or planters, and allow visibility of users and business.
  • Parklets cannot obstruct other street furniture, plantings or public signage. Parklets also must be located at least 150 feet from a corner or fire hydrant, and need to have plants or other greenery.
  • Parklets also must be built with access to trash removal, and cleaning under the flooring surface.

A completed parklet in Jamaica Plain.
Design and placement guidelines
  • Parklets must have posted signage indicating that it is a public space (sign specs to be obtained from BTD).
  • Parklet must have two wheel stops installed at either end of the parklet as a buffer to maintain an efficient distance from the vehicle traffic and parked cars adjacent to the seating area.
  • Parklets must have temporary reflective bollards installed into the pavement at either of the parklet.
  • Parklets must be able to be moved in case of emergency or hazard situations, materials used must be easily dismantled/handled for this purpose.

Layout for typical parklet

Residents enjoying completed parklet in Boston
Rules of service
  • There is no table service or alcohol consumption allowed on parklets at any time.
  • No additional awnings can be installed onto the parklets after final approvals are made, unless confirmed by city design approval.
  • Hearty plantings are required on the parklets, selection of these and type will be confirmed in final design approvals.
  • No electrical cords are allowed to lay across the public right of way from the partner establishment.

Parklet partners

It takes a village to raise and maintain your parklet! Parklet Partners are encouraged to work with their neighbors to gain community support. Parklet partners will be responsible for their parklet, but it helps to have commitments from your neighbors.

Partners will therefore need to show evidence or letters of support from the potential area MainStreets organization, property owners, adjacent businesses, district councilor, and neighborhood board.

Partners are responsible for the creation, maintenance, permitting, outreach, storage and partner liability for the parklet. 

Partner maintenance includes:

  • cleaning
  • plant watering
  • storage of any furniture, and breakdown and winter storage of the parklet season to season.

Partners will also need to enter into a maintenance agreement with the City of Boston to ensure proper upkeep and insurance needs comply. Parklet partners will need to maintain insurance season to season to cover the parklets and indemnify the City.

Partners will need to identify the team of people who will be installing and uninstalling the parklet. We also need to know the point of contact if the parklet needs to be moved or broken down in case of an emergency.

Downloads

Common questions

What do I have to pay for?

Partners will need to pay a permit fee to Boston Public Works for the season of $340 per month (subject to change based on proposed design) for the use of 2 parking spaces.

What am I (the parklet partner) responsible for?

Parklets are a partnership between the City and the permit holder. Once installed, the permit holder agrees to maintain the Parklet, keeping it cleanbeautiful, and well-activated. Partners are responsible for all parklet costs associated with creation, furniture, plantings, maintenance, and permits unless otherwise agreed upon by the Transportation Department.

How long is a typical parklet season?

Weather permitting, from April to November.

What happens if there is an emergency?

You should contact Boston Police by calling 9-1-1 or BOS:311 at 3-1-1. Upon arrival, BPD will make an assessment if additional assistance from Public Works is needed to make sure all pieces of the parklet are out of harms way within the public realm.

The respondent will alert Boston Transportation Department Operations by calling 617-635-3122 with the attention to BTD Chief of Operations, or Rachel Szakmary. The Transportation Department's Policy and Planning will take over and resolve the parklet issue within the next working day.

After three incidents in which the destruction of a parklet endangers the public realm and involves multiple departments to respond in order to clean up, the respondant will remove the parklet from that location and work with the Transportation Department to find a more suitable spot for the following season.