At the Cheese Board Collective the outside eating possibilities were expanded.

Today, some choice parking spots around Berkeley were commandeered and given over to less auto-oriented pursuits: sitting, eating, lounging and drinking being the main ones.

At the Cheese Board Pizza Collective in the Gourmet Ghetto two parking spaces sported several chairs, an umbrella and a few large yucca plants on a bed of bright green astro-turf. And downtown, outside Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food restaurant, people were enjoying lunch and afternoon drinks on Shattuck Avenue — literally — although with the luxury of a rug underfoot.

The reason? Today is international PARK(ing) Day — a day when parking spaces are turned into parklets, or eating areas, or anything which puts the focus on humans rather than cars.

The notion was conceived by Rebar, a San Francisco-based design studio which describe the PARKing Day as “an annual, world-wide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.”

Carrie Harvilla (left) of the EBBC had a spot on the reclaimed parking space outside Amanda's.

Today’s Berkeley iniatives were organized by the East Bay Bike Coalition in conjunction with the businesses who wanted to give the concept a shot. Amanda’s for example, reserved the parking space in front of their restaurant early this morning and spent the day feeding the meter (the rugs come up at 6pm).

Carry Harvilla from the EBBC was on hand to explain to curious passers-by what was going on. “We had a lot of Berkeley High students at lunchtime,” she said. “They thought it was so cool.”

At the Cheese Board, whose customers are used to eating at outside tables and on the median right smack in the middle of Shattuck Avenue, some customers were unaware that anything was different. Lounging on a chaise munching on a pizza, one customer said he thought this was just the usual offering. “I’m just having my lunch.” His friend Meg May from Oakland added: “I  like the astro turf.”

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...