If you head to downtown Hollywood today or Saturday, you may notice that several parking spots on Tyler Street and Hollywood Boulevard have been replaced by temporary miniature parks with outdoor seating and greenery.
It’s part of an international event known as Park(ing) Day, in which ordinary parking spots temporarily become communal outdoor spaces. “The idea is that you can take up one parking space with one car, and one person is using that parking space. But if you make it into a small park, you can have multiple people using that space for the day,” explains Laura LaLiberte, the architecture and urban design coordinator for the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency. “It changes the conversation about what you can do in a parking space.”
The city is currently working on developing a pilot program in which businesses can apply to build their own “parklets” — small urban parks set up in spaces that are usually reserved for cars. The concept is believed to have originated in San Francisco and has since been copied in cities including Seattle, Portland, and Minneapolis.
There's only one problem: This isn’t Seattle or Portland or Minneapolis. It’s Hollywood, Florida. And people here value each and every parking spot, in part because it’s so absurdly hot and humid and having to walk an extra block or two quickly turns a routine errand into a death march.
When the CRA announced plans for Hollywood Park(ing) Day on Facebook, many of the responses were downright hostile.
“I don't get it. Why not just go to a regular park that has PARKING?”
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“Whose bright idea to take away parking? Did the sun fry somebody’s senses? We live in Hollywood because of the awesome beach. Please don't make parking any harder downtown or at the beach. Peace.”
“Real money maker.....This town has nothing to see except empty stores.”
LaLiberte says she’s aware of the complaints being made online, but her office hasn’t gotten any angry phone calls yet.
“I’ve heard more positives than negatives,” she says. “I do think some people out there don’t understand taking up a parking spot. But we have a lot of garages downtown, so I don’t think we’re causing a huge hardship for any of the patrons.”