OAKLAND (KCBS) — Oakland celebrated International PARK(ing) Day on Friday by unveiling the first permanent public parklet in front of a café near Lake Merritt, showcasing the city’s commitment to bringing more green space to urban areas.

“We’re pretty proud to have the first permanent public parklet,” said Chris Hilliard, co-owner of Farley’s East on Grand Avenue, where the benches and bike racks have replaced two metered parking spaces.

Parklets, small urban parks created by replacing parking spaces, have become wildly popular in urban areas over the last several years.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Hilliard said it was even more special to open it on International PARK(ing) Day, which started in 2005 when San Francisco’s Rebar Art & Design took over a parking space, fed the meter and created a temporary parklet. The day is now celebrated all over the world.

“We’ve had donations from our customers, neighboring businesses and a significant donation from the Lake Merritt/Uptown District Association,” Hillard said. “It really shows everyone’s desire for new space.”

Mayor Jean Quan, who was at the unveiling, said the permanent parklet in front of Farley’s East is a result of pilot project that launched last year.

“There are still plenty of parts of Oakland that could use more green space,” Quan said.

Currently two other locations have received permits for parklets and three others are going through the permit process.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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