Parklets: Reclaiming dead urban space

The City of San Francisco, California is in the process of implementing an innovative program called Pavement to Parks.  In several locations across the City, Planners have teamed up with local neighborhood groups and advocacy organizations to turn unused or under-used urban space into “green spaces”. At a major intersection in the Castro neighborhood, where trolley cars, transit buses, private traffic, and pedestrians all converge, the City closed off a portion of one of the streets, repainted the asphalt a rust color, installed some greenery and distributed tables and chairs.  On warm afternoons, the plaza is abuzz with people taking a quick break, meeting with friends, or just people-watching (it’s a great place for that).

The most recent manifestation of the program takes its inspiration from PARKing Day, an idea pioneered by the art and design collective REBAR, also based in San Francisco.  On PARKing Day, people across the City (and now across the world) feed a parking meter and use the parking space to make a small temporary park.  San Francisco has made the process more official by claiming two parking spaces in front of Mojo Bicycle Café on Divisadero Street and installing a deck at-grade with the sidewalk, complete with bike racks, benches, and greenery.

The next parklet will be in the Mission District, reclaiming three parking spaces in front of a few local eateries.  The Mission’s cafés tend to fill up with local Facebook, iPhone, Android, Twitter, and you-name-it app developers looking for a place to work and sip distinctive coffee.  Soon they’ll have yet another place to go: the street!