Parklets & Sidewalk Cafes

The City of San Marcos Streetscape Improvements Program

The City of San Marcos is proud to introduce the Sidewalk Cafés, Parklets, and Similar Special Uses of Public Rights-of-Way Ordinance. This City created initiative provides a public-private partnership for streetscape improvements in the public realm. Adopted by The San Marcos City Council in August 2015, the program addresses a movement to reclaim and repurpose underutilized spaces for people through the use of sidewalk cafés, parklets, gateway features, and streetscape use. The program consists of an easy-to-read Streetscape Manual with photos, examples, guidance, and resources; technical information is provided within the associated Ordinance.


Parklets are the reuse of on-street parking spaces or unused portions of right-of-way to provide amenities and green space for the general public.

Potted Plants and Wooden Benches on a City Sidewalk

Parklets are intended as aesthetic enhancements to the streetscape and can incorporate seating, plantings, bike parking, and art, providing an economical solution to the need for increased public open space. The City of San Marcos has enacted a Pilot Parklet Program allowing a maximum of 5 total parklets within a one-year period, subject for a review by the San Marcos City Council. Please view the Streetscape Improvements Manual for further details on purpose, design, and approval. For further information on the origins of parklets, please visit the Pavement to Parks website.

Sidewalk Cafés

Sidewalk Cafés and restaurant seating help to enliven the sidewalk environment, encourage economic development and to activate the space in the public right-of-way.

Flower Pots Hanging Along a Sidewalk

The City of San Marcos has created guidelines to balance safety, aesthetics, accessibility, and commercial prosperity. With proper design and management, sidewalk cafés can be a great way to encourage walking, add vitality to the street, and promote local economic development. Please view the Streetscape Improvements Manual for further details on design and approval.

Neighborhood Gateway Features

Neighborhood gateway features have the ability to provide entries for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Gateway Village Sign Surrounded by Healthy Plants

Architecture, materials, and overall view can provide residents with a sense of community and enhance the natural character of the area. For more information, please view the Streetscape Improvements Manual.