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Photos: Meet Petaluma’s downtown parklets

When the pandemic shutdown Petaluma’s restaurants, those with no dedicated outdoor space wondered what to do.

The city quickly launched its “Free Range” program, allowing restaurants to take over public spaces like side walks and parking spots as long as Americans with Disabilities Act rules are followed. Around town, bright orange barriers popped up seemingly overnight — sectioning off little eating areas with at least 6-feet of space between tables.

That program was followed by a $30,000 grant from Creative Sonoma to build artistically inspired parklets. When the wet weather set in, the city forked over $250,000 for tents to keep parklet diners dry.

At a cost of up to $20,000, plus the regular cost to fuel space heaters, the parklets are not cheap. But with a slow vaccine rollout, they are helping many Petaluma eateries to survive the pandemic.

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